Coast Guard District 7
Number of Deployments:
Number of PCS's:
Share your military spouse story:
Government shutdowns, natural disasters, four PCS moves, and seven deployments! Have I grabbed your attention yet? Great! Now, I don’t look at those words with bleakness but instead as strength, love, as lifetime friendships, as independence, and many memories that are cherished deeply. It has been almost 10 years since I married my Coastie.I have grown, experienced lessons learned, and even had the chance of experiencing some serious natural disasters. I have found ways to keep a marriage alive and well when you can only communicate through email or when you are unable to speak with your spouse for days/weeks at a time. I have become an excellent packer and my skills only improve with each move. I have two precious dogs that have made every move with us and traveled by planes, charter buses, and cars. When plans change unexpectedly, the first thing I do is look at it as a new adventure and how we are going to make the best out of it! Most recently I’ve had to opportunity to know what it is like to go through a Category 5 hurricane and live without reliable power, water, and internet! If you need to know how to work a generator, I am your girl! I have always been a very driven person and that didn’t change when I became a military spouse, it only accelerated my drive. We have taken every experience that we have encountered and let it fuel our drive for the military community through our careers, volunteering, and friendships made. I have learned every family has their own journey and experiences as they navigate military life. With that, I strive to make military families feel comfortable, supported, and empowered to live their best lives. Every year as a military spouse has taught me a new lesson on endurance and adaptability and I know the next 10 will bring the same. At every chance, I work to cultivate those lessons further and pour what I’ve learned back into military families so they themselves are able to develop and utilize their strengths.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have found a true passion in helping members of the military community. As President of the All Spouses' Club, I facilitated numerous morale and fundraising events for families stationed in Puerto Rico, able to provide a $1000 scholarship, and we have had our fair share of natural disasters allowing me to volunteer during relief efforts. As military spouses, we encounter problems carrying a career with us. I was able to combine my passion for military spouse employment and my career by joining the Instant Teams family. I have been lucky to help start and Co-lead the Hiring Our Heroes MSPN Puerto Rico chapter to help spouses gain professional development and networking skills. Volunteering made me realize there are many areas that need attention and awareness. I took a leap of faith and applied for an advisory board to help the military community. That leap of faith paid off and I have been blessed to be serving as a board member for the Military Family Advisory Network.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
As the All Spouses’ Club President, I was starting a new year of events for a community still healing and rebuilding after Hurricane Maria ripped through our little home on La Isle de Encanto in the fall of 2017. While I stepped into the role with uncertainty, as we were all a little uncertain how life would be after the hurricane, it turned out to be an unforgettable experience! As President, I planned and executed four major community-wide events and several smaller events for over 100 local military and government families. I collaborated with USCG command and MWR to coordinate a Santa fly-in for the community’s Christmas event(because who doesn't love Santa flying in a helicopter). I executed fundraising events raising $3,000. I partnered with the Chaplin’s office to organize and collect gifts for local orphanages. I had the honor of organizing and executing a 35-year base-wide event, supporting our community by getting members out and meeting people outside of their neighborhoods!
Describe how you support your community:
Involvement is invigorating, whether that is volunteering in your community or being a part of a weekly tea group with friends. Being involved in several aspects of our community has allowed military families to reach out with ease. As a military community, we find ourselves relying on each other for support. Taking part in groups like the All Spouses’ Club, professional networks, and community-wide morale events enables families to make connections and build lasting relationships. In being involved, I’m able to be a voice and take community concerns to a place where they are heard and respected. My personal involvement in the community allows me to be resource, a friend, a shoulder to cry on, as well as being there for important milestones and celebrations. Everyone should feel comfortable to reach out during both hardships and celebrations. I want everyone to feel encouraged to be involved and find where they belong.
What platform do you advocate for? Why?
Military spouse employment has always and will continue to be a topic I want to help move the needle on. We have seen so many wonderful improvements over the last few years and I want to continue to see more developments and how they positively impact military families. Many military spouses have struggled to find meaningful employment and I see the discouragement on their faces. I am no stranger to that disappointment myself. The feelings of frustration turned into determination as I strive to encourage and empower spouses to go full force after their career dreams. I am a firm believer in the importance of mental and physical health in the community. While there are tons of great experiences to be had living the military life, there are also several challenges that come along with it. Take time out to be with friends, go on a walk, seek therapy, and reach out. My hope is that military spouses feel safe and supported in taking time to focus on their mental and physical health.
How have you spread the message of your platform?
I spread the message of military spouse employment by tackling the problem. I created a solution for my own underemployment; I have been thankful to find a position that helps military spouses gain career resources. I inform my personal and professional contacts on employment issues. I focus on how hiring a military spouse can positively benefit their company, and I offer PSC-friendly jobs for military spouses, such as remote positions. I pride myself on making meaningful connections with friends, military community, and command personnel. That connection impacts your message profoundly. I presented at workshops, USCG all-hands, board meetings, employment events, and personal one-on-ones.With each, I have found there is more interaction and open dialogue to discuss topics that need attention and making people feel comfortable to reach out. With each personal connection I make, I also share through social media, Ombudsmen, and my network of military-owned businesses and organizations.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
If I am given the honor of AFI Military Spouse of the Year title, I want to let spouses know they are an important resource for their family, the community, and for new and seasoned spouses. Military spouses are a powerhouse of strength and knowledge. We have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in new communities every 3-4 years which allows us to continue growing, learning, and sharing our knowledge. I am a firm believer every military spouse has a special passion to share with the world. My hope is to spark an inner light in military spouses, to empower them to discover and share their strengths, vulnerabilities, and stories with fellow spouses, and to act as the impactful resource that they are, both within military and civilian communities.
Brianna and I are both stationed OCONUS with the Coast Guard in Aguadilla, PR. Brianna always takes the initiative to volunteer within our community.
- President of Spouses Club
- some examples: Christmas, Family Easter, Parent/child dance, HS Senior Scholarship event, Oktoberfest both kids and adults on base.
As of middle of 2019, Brianna was chosen to be our voice for MFAN (Military Family advisory network) In addition, she co-leads Hiring our Heroes Puerto Rico/USVI chapter with myself and recently hired by Instant Teams as an account specialist.
Brianna also Mentors through Military Spouse Advocacy Network guiding new military spouses through their new journey!
Brianna has a big heart who loves to give. She has been a constant advocate for all Military Spouses no matter the issue and is truly passionate around Military Spouse Employment.
- by chrystyna gonzalez