Sydney Tally Hickey – United States Navy Spouse

Sydney Hickey, 68; Advocate for Military Families

By Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sydney Tally Hickey, 68, who championed improving the quality of life for military families for more than 20 years, died of cancer December 1, 2006, at her home in Springfield, Virginia.

Mrs. Hickey, the daughter of an Air Force Major General and the wife of a retired Navy captain, worked as a volunteer and served for 10 years as director of government relations for the National Military Family Association. She oversaw its legislative agenda until 1999, urging policymakers to enhance housing, child care, health care, education and other benefits for U.S. servicemen and women.


She worked with Defense Department officials to develop policies and visited numerous military installations to educate family members on using the legislative process. She took photographs of deteriorating facilities and presented them during congressional testimony.

Mrs. Hickey was influential in establishing the Defense Department’s Office of Family Policy in 1985; developing a transition benefit package for separated military personnel; passing the Military Child Care Act in 1989; improving relocation programs for military families; extending the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutritional program to military families with young children overseas; and advocating health benefits for military family members and retirees equal to those provided to other federal workers and retirees.

She gave “a face and a voice to the families of the seven uniformed services,” the secretary of defense stated in a citation accompanying the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service Award that she received in 1999.

Born into a military family in Leesburg, Florida, Mrs. Hickey attended Langley Junior High School in Arlington before graduating from high school in Fairborn, Ohio. She studied at Florida State University in Tallahassee and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Johns Hopkins University in 1961.

Early in her career, she was chief nurse for the outpatient department at the Air Force hospital in Rome, New York; a stewardess-nurse with Northern Pacific Railroad; and a public health nurse in Florida and Illinois. She also served as a volunteer Red Cross pediatric nurse and a Navy Relief interviewer.

During her travels as a military wife, Mrs. Hickey was president of four Officers’ Wives Clubs and a Commissary and Exchange board member. She also was a PTA president, volunteer teacher’s aide and Girl Scout leader.

She began as a military family advocate in 1983, volunteering with the government relations staff of the National Military Family Association. In 1987, she served as vice president, and she became the association’s first full-time professional staff member in 1990.

From 2001 to the time of her death, she served on the group’s board of governors and as volunteer health-care consultant. She also was chairman of the Defense Department’s Uniform Formulary Beneficiary Advisory Panel and a member of the National Advisory Council of the Citizen-Soldier Support Program.

She helped form the Military Coalition, a consortium of 30 national associations representing 4.8 million current and former uniformed service members and their families and survivors. She received that group’s Award of Merit, as well honors from several other organizations.

She was a member of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Springfield. From 1984 to 1999, Mrs. Hickey was a member and former secretary of the Ecumenical Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Survivors include her husband, Dennis John Hickey IV of Springfield; two children, Catherine Ann Hickey of Arlington and Elizabeth Tally Hickey of Springfield; a brother; and one grandson.


On December 1, 2006 at her residence, SYDNEY TALLY HICKEY. Beloved wife of Dennis J. Hickey, IV, Captain, USNR (Ret.); loving mother of Catherine Ann Hickey and her husband, David L. Everett and Elizabeth Tally Hickey; dear sister of Louis A. Tally and the late Emmett M. Tally, III; cherished grandmother of Owen Samuel Hickey Everett.

Interment, Monday, December 18, 10 a.m. at Arlington National Cemetery. Please assemble at the administration building by 9:30 a.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the National Military Family Association, 2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 102, Alexandria, VA 22302; St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church or a charity of the donor’s choice.

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