“The fact that there is a specific day devoted to appreciating the families that had the service members’ backs’ when they were active makes me feel appreciated.” – Candace Martin-Richberg, TriWest Customer Service Representative
Duty, honor and commitment run deep in the nation’s Veterans and those actively serving in the Armed Forces. These same values are the driving force of military spouses, whose dedication in keeping their families grounded, functioning and connected, often while holding down their own jobs, provides an invaluable support system.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day recognizes military spouses and their immense and positive impact on our military communities and is celebrated annually the Friday before Mother’s Day.
In observance of Military Spouse Appreciation Day, three TriWest Healthcare Alliance (TriWest) employees shared their thoughts about what it means to be a military spouse, and why it’s important to them.
Pride Runs Deep as a Military Wife, Mother and Mother-in-Law
Malynda Ryder has been a Claims Manager at TriWest for almost 19 years. Her husband, Tim, U.S. Air Force, Retired, earlier served in the Air Force Logistics Readiness Squadron.
They met in November 2008 – one month before he was set to deploy to Kirkuk, Iraq.
“It was my first exposure to any type of military,” Malynda recalled. “We kept in touch via email back then, and I remember getting random emails from him saying the base was currently under missile attack.”
“It was hard to wrap my head around how different our situations were half a world away,” she explained.
Malynda’s sons now actively serve. Her oldest enlisted in the Air Force and he is currently an E5 Linguist stationed at Fort Gordon, Ga., while her younger son enlisted in the U.S. Army and will soon be deployed with his Infantry unit.
Her daughter-in-law also served in the U.S. Navy as a Linguist, fulfilled her commitment, and is now a full-time student.
Malynda recalls one of the biggest challenges of being a part of a military family is the unknowns and lack of control over many situations. “While it’s not always possible for a military family to plan for holidays, it helps to remain patient,” she advised.
Despite challenges, Malynda says being a part of a military family brings great rewards, including the pride felt in the hard work and accomplishments achieved by her family, and their sacrifices and dedication to their service branches.
As part of her work at TriWest, Malynda can easily relate to the providers who treat Veterans. She believes her experiences as a military spouse and mother help her better serve our nation’s heroes.
Military Spouse Experiences Bring Challenges and Rewards
Candace Martin-Richberg was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, and her husband is a proud Army Veteran. They have four children and ultimately made El Paso, Texas, their home after being stationed at Ft. Knox in Kentucky; El Paso; and near Wahiawa, Hawaii.
“Relocating with a larger family is tough,” Candace explained. “But I probably would have not been able to see so many parts of the world without being a part of a military family. Traveling is definitely a reward.”
Candace is a front-line Customer Service Representative at TriWest and works directly with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on provider inquiries and authorizations.
Being connected so closely to the military has heightened her view and understanding to advocate for Veterans when working on their behalf with medical providers and facilities. VA resources are one of the biggest support systems for military families, she said.
Military life affects parents, spouses, children, and even extended family, Candace noted. While each family situation is unique, she recommends that there are many ways to support military families including reaching out to them to check in regularly, and thanking them for or acknowledging their sacrifices.
“The fact that there is a specific day devoted to appreciating the families that had the service members’ backs’ when they were active makes me feel appreciated,” Candace said.
Generations at Work Serving Our Country
Lorilynn Duchane-Trujillo is the spouse of TriWest’s IT Support Manager Phillip Trujillo, a Marine Corps Veteran. Phillip served as a Corporal, 1st Marine Division, 5th Marine Regiment, and 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Battalion Fox Company, 9th Marine Raiders.”
“I had no concept of what patriotism felt like until I met Phillip or until I went to my son’s basic training graduation, or until I held my grandfather’s Bronze Stars,” Lorilynn said. “Both my nephews followed in their uncle’s footsteps and recently joined the Marines as well. The military is a family in itself. Everyone supports one another.”
Lorilynn comes from a family with a long line of military service. Her maternal grandfather received two Bronze Stars in World War II, and her paternal grandfather was a career recruiter in the Air Force.
Lorilynn’s father also served in the Army. Her son is a former Army MOS 91 Bravo (Heavy Wheeled Mechanic) and 1st Calvary Division, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. After serving, he completed his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Arizona State University, then went on to complete IT certifications. He now works for an organization supporting Veterans.
Phillip, Lorilynn’s husband, has worked at TriWest over eight years.
TriWest’s role as the third-party administrator for VA’s Community Care Network helps ensure there are health care providers in local communities ready to take care of our nation’s Veterans when care is needed.
“TriWest was instrumental in my son receiving the care he got through VA’s community care, and my spouse has received care he needed as well,” she noted.
Lorilynn holds a deep appreciation for celebrating service members, Veterans, and their families, and an understanding of how much influence the military has on everyday civilian life.
“Service members are giving up a civilian life to defend our country and many of the freedoms we have daily,” Lorilynn noted. “I think they need and deserve all the support we have to give.”
Paying Tribute to Military Spouses
While Military Spouse Appreciation Day was first recognized by former president Ronald Reagan in 1984, today it’s a day set aside to recognize the importance of those who support of our military forces and Veterans.
More than 50% of all active duty military personnel and 44% of reserve service members are married, according to the National Library of Medicine from the National Institute of Health (NIH).
That equates to nearly one million military spouses, according to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
Let’s pay tribute to our TriWest military spouses and to all of those who support the nation’s Armed Forces at home and around the world, for their ongoing dedication and commitment.