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Share your military spouse story:
My name is Cristy Reid. I am an Air National Guard spouse of 25 years and the proud mother of four amazing children. I've been described by others as many things but I believe the characteristics I cherish the most are that I'm empathetic, kind, supportive and intuitive. ,These traits are important to me because they are ones that I earned through my personal trials of becoming the spouse and mother I am today. It takes a lot to be a supportive spouse to someone who has high aspirations within the military, especially within the national guard. There are so many misconceptions about our national guard community that causes us to have to be resourceful and creative in unique situations. For me, it was becoming a mother of an airman that challenged my abilities in these areas. Without the contacts and resources that I already had access to, and the love and support of my community, I would not have been a very successful in supporting my daughter during BMT. As a pre and post 9/11 spouse, I have experienced the effects of the changes placed on our national guard following the attacks. The multiple deployments, separations, and the many other experiences have taught me a lot over the years and has molded my family in unexplainable ways. The connections and relationships gained have proven themselves invaluable and irreplaceable. Having the opportunity to have a piece of my heart at each of the three air guard units within our state has grown my family even more. I'm so thankful to have been able to support my husband as he served as base commander for the CRTC in Gulfport, MS in recent years and now as he continues to serve as both a pilot and maintenance group commander at the 186th ARW in Meridian, MS. I'm blessed to also support my daughter as she serves in the Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at the 172nd AW Jackson, MS. I am so thankful for the journey as a military spouse and mother and for those who supported me along the way.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I believe that it is very important to be an active participant within our communities because it provides opportunities for growth and support in and out of the military community. I’ve organized and prepared care packages for our deployed members and assist in send-offs and homecomings. I also attend social events alongside my husband that include local business and community building events, governor receptions for our military leaders, family events at our guard installations, state and national military conventions, and change of command/promotion and retirement ceremonies. These are just a few things my husband and I actively participate in as a team.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
As a military spouse I have filled several leadership roles such as Key Spouse/Mentor where I have organized and executed events such as deployment send-offs and homecomings and provide an open line of communication among our spouses. I created and maintain our installation's facebook spouse page where I provide information and links to information pertinent to our spouse needs/lifestyle. I also am the National Guard Branch Mentor for the Military Spouse Advocacy Network and I actively participate within our new spouse forums, attend webinars and tribe building events. My most rewarding role has been to represent my state as the 2019 Armed Forces Insurance Mississippi National Guard Spouse of the Year.
Describe how you support your community:
I am very passionate about creating informal connections with others in our military families. I feel it is very important to provide support and guidance for those who support our military members . Through my own experience, I feel that we should not only support and encourage our spouses, but also the parents and family members who helped raise our new recruits that are just beginning their military career. We should never expect others to go through hard times alone, whether it be a tragic death, sickness, having children with special needs or anything that cause hardship among the members of our community. I make it a point to help others find the resources they need in their specific situations that I am not familiar with and help out where I can. I also find it very rewarding to help promote others in achieving their endeavors regarding their platforms and passions and rejoicing with them as they reach new goals in their personal endeavors.
What platform do you advocate for? Why?
I'm a firm advocate for providing our military families with the tools they need to be successful during their time in the military. I believe the greatest way of achieving this is through mentoring one another. We should be encouraging one another regularly and providing appropriate communication outlets so that every one can stay informed on opportunities and pertinent information needed to protect our military families. We should encourage our spouses who choose not to actively participate to stay connected to someone who does and to keep a flow of communication open with their spouse so that they do not miss out on important information that can effect their ability to adapt to unknown circumstances. We as spouses need to remember that it is our responsibility to protect the safety of our loved ones and the security of our future well-being and we should always be encouraging others to do the same.
How have you spread the message of your platform?
When it comes to issues regarding the quality of military life, it's better to not take it to any public media outlets unless you've already taken it to the appropriate chain of command first. With that being said, I have had the privilege of sharing my platform and concerns with one of our general's within the state this past summer and because of that he also felt it was important to provide opportunities of communication between leadership and our spouses. He held a spouse town hall at our state joint force headquarters and invited all of the spouses in our air guard to educate and allow them an opportunity to share their questions and concerns. I have also recently been a part of AFI MSOY winner, Holly Vega's series on the realities of the Reserve and National Guard, where I was able to share some of the challenges our national guard communities face.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
With the AFI MSOY title, my goal would be to focus on the importance of mentorship in building stronger bonds among our military families in the community. I would love to collaborate with other spouses and recruiters across the branches to find better ways to connect with and educate our newest families/spouses on how to support and stay connected while their loved one is away at basic training and beyond. Through this collaboration, I would like to create a more informed welcome packet to the families of our new recruits that will provide them the basic information on the boundaries we have as military families(OPSEC, PERSEC, etc), what to expect while their loved one is in training, links to support groups available, graduation expectations, and the process following basic training.
It is my privilege to nominate Cristy Reid. I had the honor to meet this amazing spouse last year and watch her pour her heart into volunteering for our military and their families all over the world. Cristy is eager to take the initiative on what she is passionate about. Her and I collaborated in 2019 to better educate our Congressman on the importance of resources for the Guard and Reserve community. Her passion is infectious and I am excited to see what impacts she makes this year.
- by amber conroy