Recent additions to the Voices board answer questions about their motivations, interests, and share their personal stories.  Get to know them better today!  

Joyce Harte

What about the Voices mission and work really motivates you?

Several years ago when I first heard that only 1 % of our population serves in the military, I was shocked which turned to a deep concern that something had to change if we were to continue to thrive as a first rate democratic country. People had to be more aware of the sacrifices made by this minute minority. Advocacy is the best policy.

The majority of Americans really do care; Memorial Day this year was a three-day celebration in my area, and I heard the phrase "what can I do" many times. Voices give a structure and a way for them to channel this caring into actions and be a part of the "team."

What is your fondest military-related memory?

There are so many fond memories that make me smile, it's hard to select just one. From the moment I arrived at my husband's first posting as a brand new bride, the welcoming and friendliness of everyone I met was like nothing I had ever experienced. It was truly like being accepted, no questions asked, into a big family. This continued throughout our time in the military. Many kind acts, large and small, was the norm not the exception. I was a very lucky person to have been a part of this.

What advice would you give to a civilian who wants to support the military but does not know where to start?

The desired advice would naturally be to join "Voices" and find out the many ways one could support the military. However, the vast majority of Americans have never heard of it. Even when you goggle it, the information is sparse. Clearly, the first thing that must happen is an intense effort to make civilians aware of the organization. A short brochure outlining its purposes, accomplishments, and goals should be developed and widely disseminated among the many military organizations already existing. We have many distributional opportunities:  the many civilians who attend Memorial Day and Veterans Day events, JROTC and ROTC awards programs, job fairs, Kiwanis, Lions, and other community organizations who already show they care to name just a few. To me, this is the essential first task that must be completed.

Charles N. Starnes, PhD

What about the Voices mission and work really motivates you?

In my home town I enjoy the gratitude of my friends and neighbors who didn’t serve in the military. They are always curious about my submarine adventures. With over 99% of Americans having not served, I seeVoices as one means to engage the 99% with the adventures and challenges of the 1%. It’s a mutual honor: I’m grateful I could serve, and my friends and neighbors are grateful for my service. We’re all on the same page of history. Voices helps us find our place on that page.

What is your fondest military-related memory?

Currently, my favorite moment is the chance to help a disabled veteran in his quest to start a business that will help other vets cope with the issues of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am using my military experience and GI-Bill funded education to guide his business venture.

What advice would you give to a civilian who wants to support the military but does not know where to start?

The needs of our veterans vary as widely as the needs of our society. Our veterans don’t want handouts, but they need a chance. Finding out about the capabilities and needs of veterans is a first step. Being always appreciative of the sacrifices of the service members and their families is another important step. Becoming a member of Voices can help achieve both of those important steps.

Alicia Hinds Ward

What about the Voices mission and work really motivates you?

The Voices mission is one of a jointly working partnership between those within the military, and those who support the military which truly calls to and motivates me. It’s the whole idea of partnership which motivates me most. As a National Guard spouse whose feet are firmly entrenched in my military community, even while being a cul-de-sac dweller and part of my local community, I know there is a great amount of support for our military and families. Civilians and businesses alike respect the sacrifices of servicemembers and families, but have a challenging time finding ways to truly support the need for more socially essential resources outside of the normal and much appreciated discounts and freebies. Often these civilian and sometimes veteran owned non-profits, businesses, and outreach services would like to lend legislative and policy support. They simply need a vehicle to do so. Voices stands in as that conduit for those outside of MOAA membership to give unified support in all forms. 

What is your fondest military-related memory?

My fondest military-related memories are more than one. Some people may have a singular memory, but 20 plus years of holding a Dependent ID has given me a lifetime of amazing moments. I’ve had wonderful days of seeing my husband return safely from deployment and the kids’ faces when they catch sight of him with the rucksack. There are also the days we’ve watched as he received multiple awards and I thought my heart would burst with pride with all he and his Squadron accomplished. I’ve met new friends along the way, and said “see you later” to more than I could count – each taking or keeping a piece of my heart with them. However, my fondest memories involved moving being in rooms filled passionate military servicemember and family advocates of both military and civilian people exchanging ideas and discussing best practices to provide plugs to gaps in care. My memories are filled with the smiles and gratitude of the families I’ve been able to help through sheer luck and knowledge. This is also why Voices is so very motivating to me. Helping military families and supporting those who help military families is my life’s work.

What advice would you give to a civilian who wants to support the military but does not know where to start?

I would say to the civilian to start with Voices. For a low $14 per year or $30 for three years, they would become an integral part of this community they support. It isn’t the money because what this gives them is buy-in to the advocacy efforts of those who lobby Congress to retain servicemember and family benefits and resources. They would also get first-hand knowledge from the knowledgeable MOAA® experts regarding national defense issues and priorities, fiscal reports and budgets, direct news about changes and issues affecting the military community, also detailed and well-written articles depicting the effects of current and proposed legislative changes. Voices gives civilians a means to make your voices heard as supporters and those who build bridges in support of our military and the entire nation. Yes, that’s where I’d encourage a civilian to start. Our civilians are our best supporters when they know more about military community needs, and can then find ways within their knowledge bases, resources, and areas of expertise to bridge the gaps and galvanize their relationships as military community supporters.