Number of Deployments:
Number of PCS's:
Share your military spouse story:
In 2007, my husband deployed. I was 21, a new mom, and lived on a military installation 3,000 miles away from family. My saving grace during this time was the friendships I made with fellow spouses. We shared dinners, met for coffee, and did life together. When the holidays arrived, I flew home to be with family. While there, I visited one of my high school friends. Like me, she’d fallen in love with a service member and married him. When I saw her, it had been almost a year since her husband had been killed in action. I vividly remember us going on a walk and asking how she was doing. I was prepared to hear that her friends had rallied around her and that despite the devastating loss of her husband she was being cared for. But that wasn’t the case. She explained that her military spouse friends had distanced themselves from her, treating her like being a widow was contagious. That devastated me. I made her a promise that day that I wasn’t going to forget the sacrifice their family made and the future they’d lost. It’s been more than a decade since that conversation, but it has never left me. The years that followed were filled with prayer as I searched for a way that I could keep my promise. Through a friends Facebook post I found wear blue: run to remember. When I read their mission, I knew it was the answer to my prayers. I was meant to run. Having never been a runner though, I had a lot to learn. I ordered a wear blue shirt and when it arrived, I committed to running for him and his family. Since 2012, I’ve run 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, marathons, 50ks, and in August I completed a 100k, all in my wear blue shirt, with his name on my back. Every race has been an opportunity to share his story. More than anything, I want to remind people that he lived. When a runner comes up and says, “Tell me about Sgt. Mickel Garrigus.” my face lights up as I tell them. Each time, fulfilling the promise I made to a friend.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Every month I lead runs for the wear blue: run to remember Saturday run community in the Quantico area. These runs are made up of military and their families, Gold Star families, veterans and civilians. They honor our nations fallen, those still fighting, and the families of both. During the summer I lead these wear blue runs every week in a different location around the county. The purpose of these summer runs is to help our newly PCSd to the area families learn of fun, family friendly outdoor places they can explore. In addition to leading the local wear blue community, I am the Director of Saturday Runs for wear blue. I oversee and train our Saturday run coordinators that lead 50 communities all over the world, many near or on military installations. On Sunday afternoons, I can be found volunteering with the Military Spouse Kickball Association as one of the commissioners for the Quantico League. I’m also the assistant coach for a Pentagon spouse team in that league.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Every year since 2014, I’ve organized wear blue Memorial Day 5k runs that are free and open to all. The first 4 years I led them near Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA. The last 2 years they’ve been in Stafford, VA. Last year’s run had over 500 participants, many were active duty service members, veterans, and their families. I have been inspired over the years by how these events bridge the gap between military and civilian communities so in the summer of 2017 I started a wear blue Saturday run community in Stafford, VA. I also help organize and execute the wear blue Mile at the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon. The wear blue Mile honors our nation’s fallen service members along a one mile stretch of the race course. I work closely with local military and their families, Gold Star families, and veterans to ensure that their friends and loved ones are honored on the course.
Describe how you support your community:
The Pentagon is a unique duty station that doesn’t operate the way most military families are accustomed to. There often isn’t the same sense of community that can be found on military installations. After missing family get together and spouse events, I started a Facebook group for Pentagon spouses. It’s open to all active duty spouses regardless of branch of service or rank of spouse. The groups goal is to bring Pentagon spouses together, offer them a place to ask questions, find support, and make friends. This year we formed a Pentagon kickball team that is part of the Military Spouses Kickball League on Quantico. It’s open to all female spouses of active duty service members stationed at the Pentagon. It’s a great way to include Pentagon spouses who miss the military spouse activities they’d normally have offered to them at other duty stations. Being a commissioner for this league and an assistant coach for the Pentagon team allows me to support military spouses in many capacities.
What platform do you advocate for? Why?
My heart is that of a volunteer. It’s where I find the most joy. There are a few organizations that I dedicate my time to, one of my favorites is We Finish Together. It’s a national nonprofit that collects race medals from athletes. We attach tags with positive affirmations to the medals and give them to anyone who can benefit from a kindness and an uplifting message. As the Military Outreach Coordinator for We Finish Together I’ve had the honor of sending medals to children with cancer whose life dream is to be in the military. During Giving Tuesday Military I coordinated the medal laying at Arlington and Quantico National Cemeteries. With family of fallen service members not always living near the cemeteries it was incredibly important for us to offer this to them. We laid a medal at each grave requested and handwrote on each ribbon “A grateful nation honors and remembers.” I’m a passionate advocate for volunteering and bettering one’s community through whatever moves you.
How have you spread the message of your platform?
Throughout my 14 years spent as a military spouse I’ve made incredible friendships and connections at every duty station. This network of friends, colleagues, and social media has helped me to share the organizations that I advocate for.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
It is said that when a service member dies, they lose two lives. The one they were living and the one they would have gone on to live. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could change the loss my friend went through. In looking for ways to help keep her husband’s memory alive I found running which has quite literally changed my life. The AFI Military Spouse of the Year title would give me the opportunity to share with not only military spouses but everyone that as a nation we honor our fallen by living lives worthy of their sacrifice. We can do that in many ways; volunteering, spreading kindness, empowering inclusion, and even in something as simple as running to remember.
Carrie is one of the most genuine individuals I have ever met. She is very involved not only in helping the active duty military community but she is passionate about honoring and remembering those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Her volunteer work with multiple non profits embodies everything she stands for. Her work with We Finish Together and Wear Blue Run To Remember touches not only those we have lost but their families, friends, and everyone in the military community. Whether it be coordinating a blue mile race event, a weekend run or an individual reaching out because they simply need help; she is always there. The military community is a better place because she is in it and she truly changes the lives of everyone she meets.
- by jenna henry
I had the pleasure of meeting Carrie at AFI MSOY 2019 Town. She lights up any room she walks into. She is an amazing mother, military spouse, volunteer, and friend to all. She is committed and dedicated to military families. She successfully runs the Wear Blue: Run to Remember chapter in DC and also established a Facebook Pentagon community group to connect & welcome military spouses. In true military spouse fashion, Carrie is always the first to step up to help military spouses and their families. It is my pleasure to nominate Carrie for this award.
- by elizabeth ann castro