Duty Station: U.S. Military Academy
Number of Deployments: 7
Number of PCS's: 11
Share your military spouse story:
I was an active duty soldier that fell in love at Fort Wainwright, and this is where my love story with the Army began. I was devastated when I was medically discharged but being married to a soldier has given me the opportunity to continue to serve our country and the soldiers who defend it. We were married about nine months before 9/11/2001, while my husband was completing the qualification course for Special Forces (SF). By March of 2002, my soldier was deployed, I was pregnant with our first son, and we had just moved to Colorado. The operational tempo was extremely fast in the SF community, and our family survived 7 deployments, beginning at a time when resources lacked for spouses of deployed soldiers. I am thankful for positive mentorship for the spouses who poured into me, nurturing our little family, at a time when I was alone, scared, and new to not only being a military spouse but also an FRG leader. At the time, I thought that these other military spouses were so kind and generous to us, but looking back, I realize that they were investing and mentoring me with genuine love. When you are loved, you love. When you are cared for, you care. I was inspired by those military spouses who became like family and strive to carry that love and care. Their knowledge and compassionate strength empowered me to be able to do the same for others in our FRG. Unfortunately, those bonds became vital as our units suffered great losses over the course of 14 years of deployments and 11 duty stations. Our hearts were broken and strengthened over that time, and my story as a military spouse is written by the men and women around me who served each other, supported each other, and resourced each other during each trial and joy.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I arrived at our current duty station and quickly learned that our Military Police Company did not have a functioning SFRG. In conversation with an MP, she shared that another soldier’s newborn baby was ill in the hospital. I contacted the MP commander to request the SFRG contact information so that I could assist if needed. If they wanted it, this family deserved to have the support of a nearby “army family” and there was no mechanism for others to aid these young, first time parents with a sick baby. Leading and coordinating with the Chain of Command, they contacted the parents who did want visitors and support. This was the birth of this SFRG. After volunteering 150 hours for coordination and training, I am happy to report that the MPs now has a fully functioning SFRG complete with a full board who actively holding socials and holiday celebrations. Morale has significantly improved so much so that 90% participation at the first ever Military Police Ball on this installation.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Big differences are made in small ways. From the moment I married a soldier, I have been involved in the military community through FRGs at each post, Protestant Women of the Chapel, DODEA school PTO, Spouses Clubs, and in everyday life as a neighbor and friend to others. While stationed in Virginia, my passion for the SFRG lead to an invitation for me to speak at the 1st BN of the 75th Ranger Regiment Volunteer Awards Ceremony. My involvement includes: coordinating training of our unit’s families to be on care teams to putting together meal trains for families with emergencies, to putting together co-ops for babysitting so that spouses could exercise at the gym, to volunteering on the PWOC as the Program Chair and the DUSA Publicity and Outreach Chair. Recently, I identified the need, and then started, the SFRG for the Military Police Company. Wherever we go, I try to identify what others need (no matter how big or small) and do what I can to help our community meet those needs.
Describe how you support your community:
I support the community by creating opportunities for people to connect and serve. Whether we know each other or not, as military spouses, we have a common history that allows us to bond quickly. Our spouses can find purpose, friendships, and connection by serving others and being involved in the community or SFRG. Some ways that I have facilitated and made these connections include volunteering for the Red Cross with disaster donation collection and blood drives, and serving as a Guardian ad Litem for abused children in North Carolina. Recently, my position as the Outreach Coordinator on the DUSA Board has allowed me to connect and support the community including instituting a monthly “Acts of Service” initiative. Also, after a tragic training accident, I connected teen members of the community with DUSA Board Members, for them to learn and lead a drive to create care packages and notes of thanks for military first responders, NY State Police, local fire department and EMTs.
What do you advocate for? Why?
My platform is to educate and inspire younger generations of military spouses to be actively involved in their SFRG and other community activities, and to see this opportunity to serve our soldiers and each other as a great privilege. All spouses, regardless of rank, gender, background or age, have something wonderful to offer and enrich our community with. Whether spouses are working full time, part time, or in the home, the more spouses that are involved, the lighter the load is for each of them, and the richer the relationships and possibility for connection before there is a tragedy or hardship. Resources may come and go but the kinds of people in the military and military families don't change. Our connection to the brotherhood and sisterhood of soldiers doesn't change. That is why we need to foster an environment where our military families can grow and flourish, volunteers are recognized, and connections are made at each installation amongst military families.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I believe in spreading the message not just in words, but in action. I have spoken about it at the 1/75th Ranger Battalion and at the pre-command Command Course for O-6 Command. I have shown the importance of this through action and what I speak about at the events I have led. Most recently, I created and led a “Welcome Home, Vietnam Veterans” program at the local American Legion, connecting the local JROTC, DUSA, the high school Select Choir and Color Guard to put on a proper “Welcome Home” ceremony and reception for deserving Vietnam Veterans in our community. The work done this past year to start an SFRG for the MP Company on this post not only gave me the opportunity to show others how to do this, but also my involvement and inclusiveness helped others to make connections. None of this would be possible without the connection and graciousness of the military community who take the ideas that I have, and then show up as the real heroes that then make our community stronger.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I hope to inspire and encourage participation in the SFRG and community organizations that support military spouses and our missions. I hope that through education and enthusiasm about the role and importance of the SFRG, a new and fresh invitation for ALL spouses will result in stronger families, happier homes, more meaningful connections, networking opportunities; therefore, creating a stronger military with families who are fulfilled and excited to be a part of supporting and defending our great Nation. There is no better place to serve than each other.