Community, support and sisters linked not by blood, but by a cause. These are all things many military spouses envision, crave and even hope for, especially when they foray into their first year of military life. Some milspouses find those things. Others find themselves constantly battling to find their way in a system that was not made for them.
After years of struggling to find their own niche in an unpredictable world, one group of women decided to forge their own community in a very special way, by founding the first military spouse sorority – Alpha Lambda Psi Military Spouses Sorority, Inc.
Founder and self-described visionary Tonya Rankins (aka Visionary Tonya Rankins) knows quite a bit about the struggle of military spouses to find their tribe, having been one herself for the last five years. She proudly claims the “More Than a Milspouse” title. “This sorority was formed to show military spouses that we are more than just a spouse,” she says. “Yes, you can follow your husband [or wife] but you do not have to put your life on hold.” For Rankins, although many of her sorors have some form of higher education and know how to “cook the bacon, and bring it home too”, the true answer for military spouses looking to continue their own development, comes in the form of service.
Shared Rankins, “Alpha Lambda Psi was formed due to the many let downs of not being able to join organization that are for military personnel. We were told spouses do not serve –which is so not true.” Military spouses, she felt, were often overlooked when it came to tailored service opportunities, and viewed as non-essential players in the grand scheme of things.
“What most people fail to see, is that the spouse is a key player in this military world. Alpha Lambda Psi promotes and encourages the spouse to keep pushing and not settle. We want to break down the walls and change how people see the milspouse,” she continued. It starts, of course, by getting out and about in the community.
Members of Alpha Lambda Psi, which is also a 501c3 non-profit corporation, solidify their commitment to serviced by providing help for spouses of wounded warriors, offering scholarships through the sorority’s I Am My Sisters Keeper Program, and connect spouses of fallen soldiers to valuable resources. One ongoing project the group contributes to, K9s for Warriors, was recently featured at www.military.com, with soror LaShanna Williams being among the first to receive a service dog.
Rankins doesn’t think small either, “My vision is to have a chapter on every military base in the world.” There are currently sorors in Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, California , Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Illinois and Maryland. This, despite the fact that it took some time for the sorority to gain traction and support, “People felt like ALP didn’t need to be around.” They kept pushing, though, she said, and recently celebrated their first Founder’s Day.
Now, the sorority, which accepts applicants of every ethnicity and from all walks of military spouse life, has received enough inquiries from male military spouses that it has plans to launch a brother organization in August of this year.
For military spouses who think pursuing their dream is impossible, Rankins shares this piece of sage advice, “Nothing is impossible. You have to first believe in yourself and p.u.s.h (pray until something happens).” It’s a strategy that has certainly worked for her. “Since becoming a military spouse, I’ve opened up my daycare,” she said. “That was a dream I thought i had to put on hold. I wrote and published a book that was spoken into to my life years ago and, of course, I started a sorority. I never imagined any of this [would happen] but I [knew] I wanted to be more than a military spouse. Now, everything and everyone connected to me will grow.”
Interested in learning more about Alpha Lambda Psi Military Spouses Sorority, Inc.? Visit www.alphalambdapsi2017.org.
Send mail to Alpha Lambda Psi at PO Box 52431, Shaw AFB 29152.