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Courtney Dixon

Branch: Army

Duty Station: Fort Leonard Wood

Number of Deployments: 0

Number of PCS's: 3

Share your military spouse story:
I became a military spouse 7 years ago! When we got married, my husband had already served 9 years of active duty service in the US Army, had 6 deployments under his belt, and was preparing for a PCS to Rose Barracks, Germany. Three days after we were married, I moved to Germany with him and was fully thrown into military spouse life. If I said that I embraced spousehood from day 1, I would be lying like a rug! The truth is that I struggled my first two years as a military spouse. Being in a foreign country, with a new baby and a husband who was frequently gone for a month or more at a time due to his job responsibilities, I struggled to fit in. I was not aware of resources, had difficulty making friends, and was stubborn to fit in. As I approached my third year, I decided to make a change. I made an effort to find resources to find activities I enjoyed and began learning to coupon. I didn't realize how becoming involved with the coupon group at our base in Vilseck and Grafenwohr would be my narrative to jump in. We PCS'd to Fort Leonard Wood during our third year in Germany, and I knew I needed to take this into my own hands. I decided to try new things and be more involved at our new duty station--this made all of the difference. I started to volunteer with our newly formed FRG, started a couponing and savings group to assist other spouses in budgeting and give them a venue to make friends, I volunteered on the Fort Leonard Wood Stable Committee while we kept our horses at the MWR stables there, and have helped be a positive voice for new spouses through the Military Spouse Advocacy Network. I know by sharing my story with new spouses, I can help change their narrative to a positive one. I also own my own business that offers reasonably priced children's clothing and consignment services for our community. The donations from the store (items that cannot be sold) are taken to a local homeless shelter that assists veterans and their families.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Leadership is an area that I firmly believe every military spouse exemplifies. We are all leaders in our communities and families! My leadership experiences range from working as SFRG leader for 3 years, serving as the secretary of the Fort Leonard Wood Horse Stables Committee for two years where I advocated for updates and policies be implemented, including editing and assisting in creating an updated SOP to promote safety, sanitation, and inclusion of all horse owning families in our military community, and by presenting an idea for specific training for mentors in Military Spouse Advocacy Network. After presenting my idea, it was approved and I then created the six-part training modules for mentors. This training showed my ability to lead through presenting, collaboration, and implementation During creation, I collaborated with volunteer leaders to gain information to include. Implementing my training resulted in positive results and consistency in dissemination of resources.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I am no stranger to involvement in our community. I was the SFRG leader for my husband's unit from 2016-2019. I was one of the founders of our SFRG. along with a great team. I provide military spouses with coupon and savings classes at Fort Leonard Wood and admin a Facebook group where I post tips savings tips. I own a virtual second-hand shop that provides low-cost clothing for military kids. I was the secretary of the MWR stable committee on post where I advocated for changes to promote safety and sanitation of the stables. As the Communications Director for Military Spouse Advocacy Network, I lead a team of volunteers to run our social media platforms to reach new spouses across the globe! Previously, I created the training our mentors complete to be able to best assist new spouses. I am an advocate for homeless veterans and do many drives each year through my business to collect winter gear and other items for a nonprofit providing rapid placement and assistance for veterans.

Describe how you support your community:
The biggest way to support a community, is to plant seeds to help it grow. This is how I support my community. Helping spouses learn about coupons and smart shopping at our local stores and online supports financial readiness in our community. My ongoing effort to accept and transport donations to homeless veteran shelters through my business, promote inclusion of a group of people who so desperately need the love and support of fellow military families. I am providing them with much needed items on a regular basis. I am part of an organization through Military Spouse Advocacy Network that supports the growth of new military spouses which supports our spouse community globally. It doesn't matter the size of the community. My second-hand shop allows me to support our community and offer mil families an affordable option. All acts of kindness, be them small or large, have a ripple effect that positively affect others. The more seeds we plant, the more love and support we sew.

What do you advocate for? Why?
The platform I advocate can be said as Not You, Not Me; WE! I advocate for inclusion and education for our military spouses and families. This area ties aspects together in a beautiful way. I advocate for education and readiness of new spouses as they enter this life through impacts with Military Spouse Advocacy Network, and I strive to help connect us with other organizations. Collaboration is a beautiful thing to bring people together to raise awareness to a common goal. I equally advocate to shine a light on the needs of our homeless veteran community and raise awareness of their needs and situations. Homelessness is not just a man's problem. Homelessness among Veteran's affects men, women, children, and families. My work on this front is often quiet and humble-- but to those impacted it speaks volumes. They do not want their lowest point blasted on social media. They want a listening ear, an empathetic heart, and help to get to where they want and deserve to be.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Communication is key not only in spreading the word, but also in being an example of inclusion. I have spread the message of the work Military Spouse Advocacy Network by reaching out to my home of record senators and representatives to provide resources for National Guard spouses currently experiencing a deployment. I am from Wyoming, and the resources are few and far between for guard spouses due to travel. However, MSAN can provide educational, virtual resources to remote spouses and I have been able to promote inclusion of spouses who may otherwise not have access to this information as readily. I spread the message of inclusion of homeless veterans by organizing winter gear drives using my virtual consignment store as a platform. This allows people to donate funds to purchase items or donated items to be taken to those in need. I am also very open about what is going to the families in need when I do drops and talk about statistics and wish lists of the veterans in need.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
If I am chosen as the AFI Military Spouse of the Year, I would continue to promote inclusion of all in our military community. We row this boat together. It doesn't matter what religion, what gender, what our orientation, what branch we are associated with, or what rank our significant other is. We can be a channel of inclusion. We can collaborate. We can shine a light for those who need it. We can support new military spouses who may feel afraid, overwhelmed and alone by helping them grow into their role. We can give a voice to homeless veterans and advocate for better housing communities, employment opportunities for them and their spouses within their communities, and better healthcare options for themselves and their families. We can be there for them as they gain footing to achieve their goals, too. This title would allow me to have a bigger voice and be able to have a greater reach. It's not you, its not I; it's WE!