A Troy University graduate has recently been nominated for the 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year (MSOY) award.
Leeanne Grunke, who graduated from TROY in 2005 with a business management degree, was one of 440 men and women who were nominated for the award.
The MSOY award was created in 2008 “to honor military spouses of all ranks and from all branches of service,” the MSOY website reads. “The Military Spouse of the Year award recognizes military spouses’ important contributions and unwavering commitment to the military community and our country.”
Grunke met United States Marine Corps Maj. J. Eric Grunke on a dating app while working as a business development manager at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
“Eric and I both swiped right and matched on Tinder,” she said. “We both like to think of it is a ‘meet your soulmate’ app and get a kick out of telling others how we met. We love Tinder jokes! We really hit it off and just knew. This was it. We clicked in every way.”
The pair got married on May 29, 2015, in a small village on the Icelandic coast, each bringing two children into the mix.
When the couple moved to their current duty station, Grunke said she didn’t know anyone, was nervous about how she would fit in and worried about what life would be like as a USMC spouse; however, she quickly found her role as a volunteer on the Command Team and as a member of the Officers’ Spouses’ Club.
A Command Team is a volunteer group of spouses and USMC squadron leadership that seeks to improve the quality of life for the Marines and their families through formal events, serving homemade meals to on-duty Marines and providing support activities to families who are going through a deployment.
“I was met with friendly welcomes and encouragement to actively volunteer on the Command Team and for the Officers’ Spouses’ Club,” she said. “After the first year, it was suggested that I step into the role of president for the Officer’s Spouses’ Club. I decided to give it a go and, with the support of a board that included a full range of intelligent and talented women, we have had a most successful year.”
The Club’s purpose is to build up the community and raise funds through social events. This spring, the board will award $60,000 in scholarships and assistance to USMC family members and community organizations.
After leaving her position at UNC Wilmington to move with her husband and a year of job hunting, Grunke was hired as the director of business development for Purple Communications, Inc.
“My role is to craft and support execution of business growth strategy for on-site American Sign Language interpreting services across the nation,” she said. “Our company is experiencing rapid growth. Business students read about this in class when assigned case studies; I’m living it now.
“My time as a Troy University student taught me that the only person who is accountable for my success or failure is me. I learned how to sink or swim. I take great pride in adding value to my team and company through measurable impact. Troy University helped me secure my dream job.”
Along with all of her volunteer obligations, raising their children and working, Grunke finds other passions in international travel, alpine skiing, hiking and reading.
“I love camping with my family and teaching our children how to appreciate this beautiful planet,” she said.
Nominations for the MSOY award are accepted from both the general public and the military community and are organized according to base, district and state.
“Leeanne is new to the military community, and she dove into it all, head first,” Katie Walker, the friend responsible for Grunke’s nomination, wrote about her on the MSOY nominees’ website. “Recently, her husband deployed right after receiving full custody of his two children. She’s juggling a full-time job, her volunteer responsibilities and raising all four kids on her own. And, she does it remarkably well. She’s an amazing woman!”
Grunke said if she is awarded the title of Military Spouse of the Year, she wants to shed a light on the needs of blended families or families with children from previous relationships.
“Our duty station offers so many resources to families, but I noticed at the time of our arrival that resources for blended or bonus families were very limited,” she said. “My hope is to increase overall base sponsored support for all unique family situations. In addition, I would like to facilitate forums where spouses are encouraged share their stories, knowledge and experience with others so we can all be better prepared to seize our own ‘having it all’ as a military spouse.”
The first phase of voting, the base vote, culminates with the announcement of the top 18. The second phase, branch voting, leads into the national vote and the eventual announcement of the winner.
The base vote ends on Feb. 9, and base winners will be announced on Feb. 13. The overall winner will be announced on May 12.