Duty Station: Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield
Number of Deployments: 4
Number of PCS's: 5
Share your military spouse story:
My husband and I have been married for almost 18 years. We have 4 beautiful children: Tayla (14), Mason (12), Lillia (8), and Greyson (3). We started our military journey, leaving our home state of Florida (go Gators!), in 2002 as we headed for our first duty station at Fort Hood. Here we spent 6 years, endured 3 year long deployments, and welcomed our first 2 children. Next came Fort Jackson quickly followed by the dive school at Panama City. That by far has been our favorite duty station. This is where we welcomed our 3rd baby. The next PCS was the hardest for us: Vermont. For 2 Floridians, moving up north, never having lived in snow was the most challenging (and that includes adding another baby in the mix). It was here that we got to experience the life of amedd recruiting. While we enjoyed the steady work hours, our family longed for that sense of community that we have only ever found living on post. We welcomed the news of Fort Stewart. Back near "home" and most importantly, warm! We've since been here for 3 years and they have flown by. This is where I've found myself the most at. We were back in "regular Army mode" as we geared up for our 4th major deployment. We've had lots of ups and downs as anyone can expect over the last 18 years, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. No do overs. No take backs. Everything we've gone through, we did it as a family and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Since being stationed at Fort Stewart, I've volunteered with several organizations. My favorite by far has been PTO President at my younger kids' school last year. Funny how you can start off as "that popcorn lady" that so many students nicknamed me, to leading an extraordinary board the following year as President. This year I currently hold a position on our executive board and love still being involved in my children's school programs. I've also served on our spouse's club governing board where we raise money for scholarships & grants for our community members. I've tried very hard to be active in our SFRG as well, serving as a co-leader alongside our commander's wife.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm the one you ask if you need stuff done. Need an extra hand doing anything? Call Catrina. From volunteering at my kids' schools, to simply helping out a friend with a fundraiser, to helping at our on post Operation Deploy Your Dress dress shop. I also try to make it to most events on post. From the USO to Club Stewart, to change of commands and hail & farewells I try not to miss a thing.
Describe how you support your community:
A huge part of my community support comes from our Marne Community & Spouse's Club. There's an event every month and it's a great way to meet new people. Supporting our local USO in all their events is another way I've been able to get out and meet new friends too. They always have something fun happening over there. And like I said earlier, volunteering at my kids' school is at the top of my list. There's days when it's stressful and we all want to throw in the towel but then a kid runs up to you at the PX because they recognize you from their school and hugs you. Or I hear other students tell my daughter how lucky she is because her mom "is always at the school." That's what makes it worth it to me.
What do you advocate for? Why?
Spouse inclusion is huge for me. It should never matter what rank anyone's soldier is when it comes to doing things in the community. At the end of the day we are all in this together and as military spouses we have got to have each other's backs. Come find me at an event, and you can totally sit with me. This is something I'm very focused on with our SFRG. As a co-leader, the commander's wife and I want to show a united front when it comes to those meetings and events. Leave your spouse's rank at the door and just be you.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Just be a good person. Maybe it's taken me these 18 years to look back and reflect on that new, naive wife I was. Be that spouse that the new girl can come up to and sit with. Show them all the great opportunities our community has to offer. It will have a ripple effect.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®