Webster’s Dictionary defines a hero as someone who fights for a cause, someone who distinguishes themselves through exceptional courage, nobility and strength. While the term hero is often applied to our active duty service members, it’s a term that can also describe the “heroes at home” we honor here - the military spouse.

This marks the fourth year The Flagship and Military Newspapers of Virginia have sponsored the Heroes at Home Military Spouse Awards in conjunction with the celebration of Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which this year is May 9.

The men and women who carry the title of military spouse also carry many of the same unique burdens and joys of military life as their active duty husbands and wives. And though they share many struggles, each is also embarked on a unique and special journey.

In addition to being a military spouse, they wear many other titles: ombudsman, president, cheerleader, employee, motivator, college student, coach, parent and friend are just a few. And while active duty service members’ outstanding work and dedication is rightly rewarded with promotions, medals and awards ceremonies, the military spouse usually gets by on a kiss and a thank you from their “significant other.”

Listening to the stories of each of the 2008 finalists, it is not hard to realize how extraordinary they are, and what a source of inspiration they are to others. This issue profiles the 15 finalists, some of the most inspiring military spouses in southeastern Virginia, from each of the services. They were nominated by their friends, family members, their bosses and co-workers, and military leadership. In another reflection of the military lifestyle, the nominations came from all over the country, and even overseas.

Selecting the 15 finalists for this year’s award was a tough job as always, and was done by a panel of judges that included:

Joseph Licari – Vice President, USA Discounters

Linda Port – 2007 Heroes at Home Military Spouse of the Year

Rosetta Rolan – Community Affairs Director, WAVY TV10

Laura Baxter – Publisher, The Flagship/Military Newspapers of Virginia

Sandi Pollpeter – Wife of Capt. Scott Pollpeter, Commanding Officer, Naval Support Activity

Sue Hoppin - Deputy Director for Spouse Outreach, Benefits Information Department, Military Officers Association of America

The 15 finalists would probably be the first to tell us they aren’t that special – they are humble, downplaying the remarkable ways they contribute to the community. And in many ways, it’s true – they are representative of military spouses all over Virginia, the United States, and places American military families are based around the world. But as you read their stories, it’ll become obvious why these 15 were chosen from the many extraordinary men and women who were nominated.