Brunella Costagliola

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: Hancock Field Air National Guard Base

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 4

Share your military spouse story:
"Will you marry me?" He whispered in a trembling voice that revealed the whirlwind of emotions his heart was attempting to keep under control. It was a breezy night in New Bern, North Carolina. We had been dating for a little over a year by then and we did not meet in the United States of America. We met in my home country: Italy. On a hot and humid midsummer night in Naples, southern Italy, I met this man, who came from a faraway land, whose language and accent made me dance to foreign tunes, and whose culture introduced me to a whole new world. A world I wanted to be part of. Forever. So, I looked at him, smiled, and with teary eyes filled with just as many emotions, I whispered, "Yes, but..." I know. Not the usual answer. The "but" meant there were going to be stipulations. He looked up and smiled. That smile told me he was expecting nothing less of me. He knew those stipulations well as we had discussed them many times. What were they? "But I need to first finish my collegiate career, and then I will be happy to marry you. Can you wait for me?" He did. He waited 3 years. To be geographically close to me, he applied for (and got!) a special duty assignment to England after his time in Naples was up, while I completed two master's degrees from Leiden University (The Netherlands), a prestigious university that allows me the honor of calling Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, and more my fellow alumni. After I graduated, I moved in with him and earned a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults from the University of Cambridge. Two months later, we were married and our life as a military family began. Fast forward 13 years, 2 children, 4 duty stations, 1 deployment, and countless smiles and you can find me here, filling this form. Why the stipulation? Because I had no idea what life as a military spouse would be like, but I knew what I wanted out of my life as a woman, and even though it was challenging, I found a way to combine the two.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have been working in the publishing for many years, both as writer and editor. I am also a journalist for Military Families Magazine, Reserve and National Guard Magazine, and more. My goal is to bring military stories to life, whether in a 900-word format for a magazine article or in a 250-page format for a book. However, there is a major gap between the publishing industry and the military community, mostly because the (traditional) publishing industry has often viewed the military community as too niche, which in their terms means not a significant number of book sales. Yet, the military community (active duty, veterans, spouses, children, etc.) has some of the most unique and incredible stories I have ever heard, stories that can inspire, motivate, educate, and entertain others. So, I asked myself: how can I bridge this gap? And that's when I launched The Military Editor® Agency and became an advocate for the importance of military stories in the publishing world.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
Being so far away from home, the military community quickly became my family. I was welcomed with open arms by the military, who embraced my foreign accent and my somewhat different way of life and made me feel as if I had always belonged to this community, which I soon discovered to be a beautiful melting pot of colors, flavors, tunes, and smiles. Naturally, I wanted to give back to this community that had given me so much. So, aside from showering squadrons with home-cooked Italian meals, planning and volunteering at base events, and most recently becoming the Syracuse chapter ambassador for the #GivingTuesdayMilitary movement (reaching 1,800 acts of kindness) even though we had only recently PSCed to New York, I decided to launch my own business: The Military Editor® Agency, Where Military Authors Gather. I believe in the importance and power of military stories and my mission is to not let them get lost in history amnesia.

Describe how you support your community:
After years of passionately advocating on behalf of the military community to the publishing industry, I am thrilled to say that I have finally been successful at bridging the gap between the publishing world and the untapped potential of writers in the military community. The Military Editor® Agency, Where Military Authors Gather is a writing and editing agency where military authors or authors who have written military-related manuscripts can come together and encourage one another, give each other honest feedback and support, and find inspiration within each other's work. Members also will be able to listen to, learn, and network with the most sought-after experts of the publishing industry, from literary agents and New York Times bestselling authors, to presidents and owners of the most important publishing firms in the country. They will also have the access to exclusive, content-packed webinars and always be updated on the latest writing and publishing trends, and much more.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I believe in the importance of military stories. I believe in telling them and not allow them to get lost in history amnesia. If you don't tell you story, who will? Read that again. We need to tell and publish stories of veterans, active duty, military spouses, etc. For example, there is a major need for military stories of people who lived, experienced, or fought in World War II. We don't have enough. Why? Because nobody wrote them down. And now, most of WWII veterans or their close family members, if still alive, have reached an age in which it's hard to recall details of what their experience was like. Recently, I was lucky enough to edit a book of a WWII veteran who became a Kempei Tai prisoner of war in Japan. He is 99. But now, his story has been told it will be published in February 2020. But what about all the other ones? We have a responsibility to tell our stories: they are all different and they all matter. Don't let yours be forgotten. You deserve to be remembered.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Since winning the Silver Medal from the Military Writers Society of America in 2018 for a children's book I wrote ("My Dad Got Hurt. What Can I Do?"), which was sponsored by the National Academy of Neuropsychology Foundation and illustrated by a longtime Disney cartoonist, I have used my platform as an award-winning author and bestselling editor to network and advocate on behalf of military authors. For many years, I have been working for some of the most prominent publishing firms in the country, and that's where I began spreading my message. I have talked to them about the importance of telling military stories and I was happy to see they were ready to listen. One in particular is creating an entire military division within their publishing firm, something I am incredibly proud of as they asked me to help them build it. Aside from spreading my message through podcasts, interviews, and more, I will also be a speaker at the Military Women's Conference in February 2020.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
Having the title of AFI Military Spouse of the Year® would allow me to keep building my platform and keep raising awareness on the importance of military stories, but on an even bigger scale. I believe that, as an official representative of the military spouse community, I could make even more of an impact in the publishing industry and help younger readers learn history from direct sources. For example, I have been working on a series of children's books that tell the stories of the women who have made military history, a project that has been very well received by many people in the military community, including the Women in Military Service for America, and military officials, such as a former Secretary of the Air Force. The title of Military Spouse of the Year®, aside from being one of the greatest honors I could ever receive, would also be a way for me to make sure that military stories are cherished, told properly, and passed on to future generations so to never be forgotten.