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Cecilia Dyer

Branch: Army

Duty Station: Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall

Number of Deployments: 3

Number of PCS's: 4

Share your military spouse story:
Life as a military spouse is such a blessing. Born in the Philippines, I was adopted into a loving Air Force family. We have lived all over the world. In 2005, I met my husband, Kenneth Dyer, while he served at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. After his 2nd deployment, we got married in 2009. We relocated with the military several times over the years. In December 2018, we returned to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) which is a community where I feel most at home and where our friends were. This duty station is particularly important to me because my father lost his battle with cancer in 2017. He is now interred in Arlington National Cemetery. We visit his gravesite at every given chance to show how much we appreciate his sacrifices as we pay homage to his dedication to serving our beloved country. Being married to an infantryman has its ups and downs, but the success that I've had in love, marriage and life is proof that every beautiful thing in this world is important.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I was fortunate to be given opportunities to assist different unit command teams by filling FRG volunteer positions such as a battalion FRG volunteer and as a FRG Key Caller. Throughout the years, I have volunteered for other community organizations such as local school programs, American Red Cross, installation chaplain’s programs, and Army Community Service to name a few. I currently volunteer for the Army Spouses Club of the Greater Washington Area as their historian. Giving back to your community is vital for its future growth. Being a community volunteer has opened doors and opportunities for me that have led to me connecting with others while working on different community platforms of interest. My overall story has a long way to go before it is completed. I hope that it will be filled with even more creative experiences, new friends, great memories, and lasting relationships before that happens.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
As a military spouse, I am always volunteering and finding new ways to support my spouse, our family, and our military community. It is important for me to reach out to others so I could better support those in need. Any time spent meeting new people at duty stations is worth its weight in gold. Working together, we have provided a reliable resource network for new transitioning families. As a community volunteer, I focus my efforts on being present, helping out with community events, and in supporting my husband. My volunteer experiences have enabled me to further assist those new arrivals at their new duty station. As I struggle every day with my ongoing health issues, I continue to give back to our Army and military community in appreciation for the wonderful life that it has provided us. I have no expectation of personal gain or reward for my actions because this is how I choose to live my life. I hope that my kindness will in some way influence others to be kind as well.

Describe how you support your community:
During my husband’s deployments, I used my inner strength in to deal with difficult family separations so it would be a little easier for the next time. With the military, there is always a next time. I have learned that it takes courage and strength to be married to someone that is serving our country. Our time is not our own; we must be extremely patient, well-informed, compassionate, and at times ready for the unexpected. I often devote myself to helping everyone so we all could get through these tough times together. There was a special moment when I was blessed to have even been there for a friend while she delivered her second baby because her husband was deployed at the time. We remain friends to this day due to that life changing moment. Having that extra person to lean on and being supportive can go a long way, especially when you are in stationed in remote locations. This simple act of kindness and similar acts are what being together as a community is all about.

What do you advocate for? Why?
As an advocate for chronic pain management programs and services, my platform is to promote awareness of chronic pain management programs and services for our military families who suffer from Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS). TMS is a condition that causes real physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal issues, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia that are not due to any defined pathological or structural abnormalities and are not explained by many diagnostic tests. In TMS, a majority of the pain symptoms are caused by mild oxygen deprivation via the autonomic nervous system as a result of repressed emotions and psycho-social stressors. Since I am a sufferer of these chronic issues, I would like to see worldwide access to these healthcare services and programs be made available to our military family members and Veterans as well as to our Servicemembers in the future as part of their chronic pain management treatment and care.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
My primary care doctor suggested that I educate myself more about TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome) and chronic pain management since I have suffered from this condition for many years. I believe that chronic pain management programs should be offered and covered by insurance for family members at military treatment facilities nationwide. It is important to educate our military community about this condition, how it affects sufferers daily, and its available treatment options. I have shared the background of my medical issues with others in hopes of gaining further insight into how other TMS sufferers are dealing with their chronic pain without the benefit of yoga, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and acupuncture. I know that the more I share my story and my platform with others I can promote awareness so that more people will have a greater understanding of what TMS is and how TMS education programs could be enormously helpful to many military families across our nation.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
Yoga, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and acupuncture are great therapy service options for chronic pain sufferers such as myself. These services focus on the power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery at designated military hospitals for only the following: active duty Servicemembers, activated/called to active duty service for more than 30 days in a row National Guard/Reserve Servicemembers. Unfortunately, these programs and services are not available for family members or dependents that utilize TRICARE for medical care. They are also not covered by TRICARE for family members and dependents. As a MSOY, I hope to be afforded an opportunity to work with policy makers, senior leadership, TRICARE representatives, and community partners to help develop, initiate, and promote awareness of chronic pain management programs and services specifically for our military families who suffer from Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) and its ongoing symptoms.