Meet the 2020 AFI MSOY Top 18!

bree carroll

Branch:
Air Force

Duty Station:
Barksdale Air Force Base

Number of Deployments:
5

Number of PCS's:
1

Share your military spouse story:
After graduating North Carolina A&T State University with a BS in Civil Engineering I was selected to be an Air Force Palace Acquire at Laughlin, AFB, TX. This Jersey girl would have never left Texas had it not been for a handsome pilot training student introduced himself in church. We fell in love, married and with excitement, learned our next chapter would be at Barksdale AFB where he’d fly the mighty B-52. At Barksdale I volunteered with booster clubs, supporting auction and 5K fundraisers with our small son in toe. I knew I could take on a little more so I lead Private Organizations for diversity and Women’s History Month observances with now two sidekicks that called me mom. I learned true sacrifice while giving birth to our third child while my husband was deployed. Still, I wanted to continue serving. I became a Key Spouse for the 20BS and spouses’ club President with three little ones while balancing a full time job and business. As a GS employee, I assist spouses in navigating government hiring and shared tuition assistance and scholarship opportunities. When afforded the opportunity to participate in the AF Career Field Development Team, I advocated for spousal employment and diversity outreach. Still, I wanted to make a greater impact. Around this time a lot of our friends started to file for divorce and a few suicides on base really hit home. This shook me. Our military family was falling apart and I wanted to be a part of helping put it back together. I began to volunteer on staff with The Warrior Network and launched Hearts & Stripes, a community and podcast on military marriage. My military spouse story is driven by the desire to be the change I hope to see in the world. It’s truly a privilege to serve alongside our nation’s heroes and I’m excited to see how I can continue to bless others throughout this Air Force journey.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I’m an Air Force spouse of six years and a civil service member for the Mighty Deuce, 2BW Barksdale AFB. One of my favorite roles for my military involvement has been working with the Warrior Network (TWN) as the Director of Family Events, which allowed me the opportunity to serve over 3,500 active duty families at TWN events, raised $8,000 to give back to Airmen in times of crisis and need, and support quarterly events to bring our Barksdale service members together with their families for fun or serious subjects like suicide. This nonprofit not only gives resources, but makes the warrior feel valued, that they are seen and have purpose.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Being a leader within my military community is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things I’ve ever done. As an entrepreneur I’ve been featured in Military Spouse Magazine sharing on my wedding planning business and how it could be a good fit for a mobile career. Locally, I’ve served as President during the administration that transitioned the Officers’ Spouses’ Club into an open and inclusive Spouses’ Club. I’m a proud 20BS Key Spouse and had the opportunity to support some of the best Bomber families in the Air Force during deployments. My proudest leadership moment came with consoling and supporting a young spouse who was frantic due to a no notice deployment. Our role as military spouses is not an easy one, but I was so happy to sit and let her cry and vent with me so that she could be strong and encourage her husband to do the mission set before him. You don’t need much to be a leader, just heart and a desire to see others excel and be supported.

Describe how you support your community:
My favorite part of being a military spouse is the opportunities to meet and connect people. I enjoy being the bridge from the base to the Shreveport-Bossier community. When a fellow military spouse told me of her diagnosis with Epilepsy I helped her turn what seem to be sad news into an awareness platform. I worked with the Epilepsy Foundation of Louisiana, now Epilepsy Alliance Louisiana on fundraising efforts for the North Louisiana region during Epilepsy awareness months in November for two years raising $5,000 for research and awareness. As an advocate for education, I serve as the chairman for scholarships and Target 1 HBCU for Life through my local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In addition, I’ve lead a giving campaign that donated over 16,000 lbs of nonperishable food items to the Northwest Louisiana Foodbank. I’m a firm believer in the quote, “service is the rent we pay to live…”

What platform do you advocate for? Why?
The platform that I champion is Military Marriages. We hear a constant emphasis on the military family, which is awesome, however we never focus on the core of that family, which is the marriage. Most resources for military marriage come from Chaplains or counseling sessions, but there isn’t much more beyond that. Training often separate the couple with some that are exclusively for the service member and some exclusively for the spouse, however there is strength in numbers and unifying, which is why I was surprised that I couldn’t find many resources for couples to attend together when trying to connect my friends that felt they didn’t have good options on where to go when considering divorce. The current culture doesn’t emphasize strong marriages and this is a platform that I’d love to advocate for.

How have you spread the message of your platform?
When faced with the reality that our Armed Forces are only as strong as our families, yet divorce and separations are the new norm, I had to do something to about it. My answer was the launch of a support community and podcast, Hearts & Stripes, which is a platform discussing military marriage and celebrations to equip military families with resources to strengthen their marriages. Episodes release on the 1st and 15th on Apple podcast, Spotify, Google Play and other apps and include challenges to start conversations or equip couples to tackle the big issues military marriages face. To champion this topic I’ve reached out to nonprofits like The Come Home Project to bring greater attention to practical steps that can be taken to improve our warrior spouse relationships, with future partnerships on the horizon.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
One thing I’d like to accomplish with the title of Military Spouse of the Year title is to bring greater awareness to military marriage issues. Currently I work alongside some amazing programs as we lead the way in starting the dialogue on the unique challenges military couples face. My hope is to create proactive and resolution based resources for our military couples. I believe the strength of the military family has direct correlation to the strength of our armed forces and the core of that is the marriage. With this elevated platform I’d be an advocate for military marriage.

Nominations

Bree Carroll is simply an inspirational person and phenomenal as a military spouse! She is a hard-working mom who, despite the demands of busy schedule, still takes the time to take care of those around her. She is a key spouse in the 20th Bomb Squadron, responsible for maintaining close personal relationships and support for 60 spouses. Her dedication was recently put to the test as the squadron was tasked with a no-notice deployment. She immediately provided comfort and taking care of families who were unprepared for the sudden life-change. In addition to her role as a mentor in the squadron, she is also gives advice for all military spouses with her "Hearts and Stripes" podcast, which focuses on military marriage. She is also the Director of Family Events for the Warrior network, serving 1,000+ active duty families and raising $8,000 to give back to Airmen in times of crisis. Bree is a caring, thoughtful woman who makes everyone around her better--she truly deserves this honor!
- by jarred prier