Wash. military mom up for award for 'Secret' blog

RIDGEFIELD, Wash. - A Ridgefield, Wash. wife and mother who is a prolific writer is a finalist for a high honor: "Military Spouse of the Year."

The nomination comes for work Lori Volkman did while her husband spent a year and a half overseas on active duty. The award is given by Armed Forces Insurance, which began the program in 2008, according to their website.

Volkman started a blog where she would share moments - both humorous and trying - with other military wives across the country.

She has also been published in the New York Times, where she wrote about the wife of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is charged with killing 17 people in Afghanistan.

When Volkman's husband Randy was deployed to the Middle East in 2010 she had a full-time job as a deputy prosecutor, two kids, and her mother was in the midst of a battle with cancer.

"I was so busy in the months leading up to his deployment that I don't think I stopped to take a breath and consider what was happening until after he left," she said.

Without an active duty base nearby with families in a similar situation she could relate to, Lori reached out online for support and created the blog "Witty Little Secret ~ A Deployment Diary of Another Sort."

On the blog, she shared texts and emails from her Navy pilot husband along with descriptive chronicles of the challenges she faces while he is away, including her personal fears and some of the most difficult moments at home.

"You hear that click in the door. And it is like a door closing on something," she said, describing the moment Randy left for deployment. "You think that's possibly the last time you're gonna see them."

One poignant entry describes trying to explain to her young son that there were still many months to go before his dad was due home.

"He sort of had this moment where he finally understood how long a year was," she recalled. "He did what I didn't expect, which was he just collapsed on the floor."

Now, Lori's inspiring words have won her a military writer's award and have also led to her becoming Washington's representative for an effort to get rules changed for military spouses who are lawyers.

The goal: to end the requirement to pass the state bar exam every time the family moves.

"I could not fathom someone taking five or six" of the grueling tests she said.

Her husband Randy is back home now and she says life is good.

Lori said that in regards to her nomination for Military Spouse of the Year, win or no win, it has been an amazing experience and has opened networks that will hopefully help her accomplish her mission of getting laws changed.

"The idea that a military spouse can have a lifelong career is pretty unique," she said. "I'm pretty excited about that possibility."

Lori will find out later this month if she is the winner.