Amber McCoy

Branch: National Guard

Duty Station: Oklahoma

Number of Deployments: 3

Number of PCS's: 0

Share your military spouse story:
It was a hot day in the middle of the summer of 2008 in Iraq. I was approached by a young man who introduced himself as Dustin McCoy, young Specialist at the time. Initially, I found this strange and did not want to be bothered, after all we were in a war zone. This young man was very persistent popping up in all the same places I would go. At the end of October 2008 we were making our way back home to the United States and we struck up conversation and I realized we had a lot more in common than expected. He made me smile and laugh and so I decided to give it a chance. Once we returned to the States we had our first date and we have been inseparable since. A few months later, in June 2010, we were wed and blessed with our first son, Weston. Soon after our vows were said he was on his way to another deployment in Feb 2011. While he was busy with a deployment I settled myself into being a new mother, newlywed wife, soldier and a college student. He returned home April 2012 and encouraged me to continue my school work seeing how important it became to me. Due to his support I completed school with 2 degrees. In 2016 we were blessed with our second son, Ryker and once again Dustin was headed for his third deployment across the sea. I found comfort in a new found hobby, weight lifting, and began to compete in transformation competitions. Though he is home now he is my biggest support while keeping me accountable. Through our marriage I have supported my husband through 3 active duty deployments, 13 years of drills and multiple State Active Duty missions while he has given his life in supporting me in all my dreams and aspirations. No, not all days are rainbows but we have grown together with our Guard family in tow. He has been a key staple in his unit of 13 years and a staple in our marriage.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I show leadership by taking the issues our soldiers face and presenting them to alliances and coalitions. I have helped many of our families apply for needed assistance and benefits that are needed. Within my role of being the Alcohol and Drug Control Officer I have implemented free substance abuse assessments. As of now, we are the first state to offer this to our Guard members. I was finding that soldiers were unable to afford the necessary assessments to move forward. I am also on my way to implementing a DUI program for free for our service members. I have also worked closely with family member to help them with resources for mental health and addiction. Leadership is being the voice for the soldier who is on hard times or embarrassed of their circumstances.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 2008 and I decided to volunteer for my first deployment as a new private. I currently host family dinner nights for soldiers so we may share strength and support for one another. We started off hosting for his unit then it spread to the battalion and now anyone that is Guard or prior Guard attends. At any given time we host up to 12 children and multiple adults. It is important to me to instill connection, not only within our ranks, but for our children to be connected to other Guard children. We have organized community outreach that service members voluntarily participate in, such as feeding the homeless. I also am a contractor for the Oklahoma Army National Guard serving as the Alcohol and Drug Control Officer and overseeing the Suicide Prevention Program. I am consistently involved with our service members by helping those with addictions and networking with community resources to help build more resilient soldiers and families.

Describe how you support your community:
I support the community by making positive partnerships with community resources to instill a security blanket of support. Not only have we fed the homeless but we have banded together to help support other families that are not Guard affiliated that are in times of need. This past Christmas a family in need was brought to my attention. With one Facebook post the family in need had a kitchen stocked with groceries and an assortment of gifts for the children. We are Guard and we are everyday citizens that uphold the Oklahoma standard.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for the soldiers voices to be heard. I advocate for the soldier and their family that does not feel supported. This is detrimental because the feeling of being a part of an organization without the support can cause more harm than greatness. I also have a strong belief in advocating for proper resources that work and do not cause more confusion. It is important that our soldiers are getting the help and resources requested properly and efficiently. I advocate for our community resources to become culturally aware. We are Guard one weekend a month two weeks a year. I advocate for belonging.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I spread my message by creating Facebook events and the Family Readiness Group pages and word of mouth. I have also been apart of the Oklahoma National Guard's podcast sessions to talk about Suicide Prevention. I conduct Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention briefings regularly to our service members where I also spread the word of available resources.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I hope to accomplish a more inclusive and family oriented Guard by creating a supportive environment by shedding light on available resources to strengthen our families and service members. My wish is that my children are learning the values that I have learned from the Guard, not only as a spouse, but as a soldier. My hope is that all of our Guard children will always have a place to call home and are learning these same values. The values of trust, connection, support and love. I look forward to making more positive strides by building trust and relationships to support our organization and its members.