JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. --
The husband of an Air Education and Training Command major represented the Air Force in the 2014 Military Spouse of the Year awards ceremony, honoring a spouse from each service.
Christopher Pape, husband of Maj. Dana Pape, AETC resources section chief, was one of six representing the services to be honored during spouse of the year award ceremony, sponsored by Armed Forces Insurance and Military Spouse Magazine.
This year, Lakesha Cole, the wife of Okinawa-based Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Deonte Cole, was selected as the overall spouse of the year.
On hand for the event were members and spouses of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as each service’s nominee for the award. “It’s a great day to be a military spouse, said Deanie Dempsey, wife of Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And, thank God, we now have a day designed to honor all military spouses.
“The six spouses here today that we will be honoring – representing each of the services – has gone above and beyond what every great military spouse does,” Dempsey said. “They’re even greater if you can believe it. So, those six of you have to feel pretty darn good. You represent the best of the best.”
Pape earned his title as the Air Force Spouse of the Year for bringing a male, military spouse perspective into the spotlight as the founder of "Macho Spouse," an interactive online resource and educational video library. Macho Spouse videos capture life lessons from male spouses, advice from family counselors and career tips from military spouse career experts.
Maj. Pape said she remembers the day her husband came up with the name for his new project.
"One afternoon while walking our dog, Chris was bouncing ideas off me for naming his project. When he said, 'how about, Macho Spouse?' I immediately smiled and laughed!" she said. "Not only does the quirky, creative name stick in your mind, but it also reflects his personality."
Although he works full time and tries to spend as much time with his wife as possible, he feels his web site is important and hopes it makes a difference.
"Creating Macho Spouse has been my biggest accomplishment within the military community," he said. "This project has given me the opportunity of feeling as if I'm making a difference. To this point, Macho Spouse has been purely a labor of love and volunteer effort; this is what makes me most proud. I can rest at night knowing I've at least tried to make life for military families a bit better."
Pape used his video producer background, creating online video content for the Arkansas Department of Education, to design the content for Macho Spouse.
"Video is a very powerful way of communicating, and I wanted to share the stories, experiences, and insight from other male spouses in a very effective manner," Pape said. "For guys to be able to see and hear life-lessons of others is a very important component to Macho Spouse."
Each video is designed to share positive and pro-active insight on how best to handle the challenges of being a military spouse, according to Pape.
"[In the videos] You won't see a bunch of guys sitting around crying about the difficulties of military family life," he said.
Pape has also hit the road as a key speaker at four military spouse conferences, addressing more than 1,300 attendees all together. At each event, he was lauded by both men and women for providing an avenue where the male spouse community can feel accepted and understood.
"Knowing that I'm actually helping to make a small difference for military families is my motivation. Also being aware that the amount of support I put in will eventually come back to me when I'm in a jam and need some support," he said. "Even though there are millions of us around the world, we can be a small community when it comes to helping others in times of need."
His wife said she couldn't be more proud.
"Chris has opened my eyes to better understanding the demands placed on military spouses and I am thrilled that 'my Macho Spouse' is being recognized for his significant contribution to enhancing the military spouse community!" she said.
While all of his work has paid off with each new member of Macho Spouse and each new follower on social media, Pape still hopes to get more male spouses involved.
"I hope to achieve a higher rate of inclusion for male military spouses," he said. "I hope to help bring our extremely high divorce rate down to levels that reflect normal society. I want to build a resource that gives guys a way to connect with one another, especially in times of need."
(Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr. and Tech. Sgt. Beth Anschutz contributed to this article)