Surviving Spouse Corner: A Day as a Lobbyist

Surviving Spouse Corner: A Day as a Lobbyist
From left, MOAA Surviving Spouse Advisory Council members Renée Brunelle-Matthews, Nora Durham, Pat Green, Gail Joyce, Barbara Smith and Vivianne Wersel pose with former council member Micki Costello (far right) during MOAA's Advocacy in Action event April 26 in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo)

All eight members of the Surviving Spouse Advisory Council (SSAC) were among the nearly 200 MOAA members, leaders, and staff who participated in the association’s annual Advocacy in Action event April 26 to meet with legislators about several important issues. (Learn more about these issues at


By the time the day was over, SSAC members visited with about 60 legislators and/or their staffs from seven states. Each came away feeling the message was well received and the experience was positive.


SSAC member Dr. Vivianne Wersel said the event gave her the opportunity to cultivate relationships with members and staffers from North Carolina as well as with other MOAA members. 


Barb Smith, of Virginia, thought it was a great experience and, because this was her second time participating, she felt more confident and involved.


Capt. Kathy Thorp, USN (Ret), a MOAA board member and surviving spouse, summed up her experience: “Every time I visit the Hill, there is an underlining thrill of excitement. To walk the halls and witness the everyday rhythm of our democracy in action is something everyone should do in their lifetime. To witness MOAA in full force, with chapter and council presidents, surviving spouses, board members, and MOAA staff advocating for our military and their families, surviving spouses, and our veterans, always brings me overwhelming pride to be able to volunteer my time and energy for this organization.”


[RELATED: The Latest Advocacy News From MOAA]


SSAC members already are looking forward to 2024 when they can once again be “lobbyists for a day.”


All MOAA members can add their voice to the effort by sending a message to their legislators. Visit MOAA's Legislative Action Center for details.


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About the Author

Virginia "Gail" Joyce, Surviving Spouse
Virginia "Gail" Joyce, Surviving  Spouse

Joyce is a MOAA board member and chair of the Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter.