David Carrera

Branch: Navy

Duty Station: Camp S.D. Butler

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 4

Share your military spouse story:
I am a Manpendent, or Male Spouse, it's as rare as seeing Bigfoot riding a Unicorn in the forest. Before I met my wife, I traveled the world as a Television Producer, meeting sports stars and celebrities, but I wasn't complete. One day I went to a museum featuring Cuban Art, or so I thought (I was a week late). Just as I was leaving this woman speaking Spanish into her cell phone emerged. She was beautiful, definitely out of my league, but in life I feel its better to regret something you did than something you didn't do, so I introduced myself...its a much longer and more interesting story but I don't have enough characters left. Fast forward a year. I married the woman of my dreams, and with that was thrust into the military spouse world. As a male spouse there are challenges, such as that most support groups and meetings cater to women. In fact I went to a spouse meeting once and it turned out to be a book club, that was reading 50 shades of grey...I showed myself out. Another down side was giving up a successful career and having to reboot my resume every 3 years. But it's been worth it, I stay so positive that some people ask me if I have a permanent lithium drip on me somewhere. I meet new service members, their families and have come to realize it really is a small Military community. Sure when people thank me for my service, I end up pointing to my wife, but that's a stigma that will change in time. There are so many women serving in our armed services, and that should be celebrated, and recognized more. I have been a military spouse for 11 years, In that time we have PCS'd 4 times, 3 in the states and now we are in Japan. My wife handed me my son when he was a little over a year old and boarded a plane for her first deployment, (with no instruction manual for him) and I have seen her promote through the ranks into a leadership role in the Navy. This life may not be for everyone, but for me..I am now complete.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have helped other male military spouses by being active in a Facebook group; Manpendent. We help other male spouses with their PCS, with getting jobs, and even emotional support. While I don't consider myself a leader, many spouses do reach out to me for help on island events, or just to chat. Sometimes 5 minutes on the phone or in person can mean a lot to a spouse facing a whole new life here. Depression, anxiety, and homesickness are a real part of a spouse's life here, with our Manpendent support group, we try to bridge the gap and open doors to make Okinawa feel more like home. The support and meet ups we create, help build a sense of community and strength. There have been a few occasions when a fellow male spouse needs to talk about a problem, or needs to seek counseling. We as a group drop what we are doing and provide answers to the tough questions asked, we do it because know that a male military spouse life can be tough. I want them to know we have their back, always.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I volunteer coach military youth soccer on Island, and also help out a military spouse only dragon boat team, by using my video skills to create documentary films on their success. I'm a PTO volunteer for my son's school, mainly because that lost and found is getting out of control. I also help fundraise and raise awareness (as well as donate) to Help Oki a non profit that service orphanages and women's shelters here in Okinawa. It's important to let our host nation of Japan, and those in Okinawa know that we appreciate and celebrate their culture. Since I own a large van, #vanlife, I find myself sponsoring new families on island and running shuttles to and from the airport for those who have lager families and pets. Through my YouTube channel, I venture out onto Okinawa, many times out of my comfort zone, to show those on and off base, what an amazing island we live on. I focus on the culture and the people..and fun festivals and encourage people to get out there and explore!

Describe how you support your community:
I have made connections with local orphanages in Okinawa through a Help Oki program and have raised funds and helped others with donation to the children and community here in Okinawa. I knew this duty station would free up a lot of my time, therefore I jumped in with both feet knowing I could make a difference here. Its about showing our Japanese hosts that we value their culture and community. I attend other spouse group meeting to let our group know of any opportunities that our support may be needed. I am also a social media butterfly, always with an answer at the ready to that next scared family wondering what Japan is really like...spoiler alert, its pretty awesome!

What do you advocate for? Why?
As far as advocating, my main platform is helping others to assimilate. Mainly bringing awareness to male military spouses and how sometimes, regrettably , they are left out or not thought of in terms of who "mainstream" spouses event cater to. Male Military Spouses often are overlooked, or people are unaware of them because usually you see the wife waving goodbye, as sailors ship out. But Male Spouses are dads and moms in this situation, they are also partners and no matter which classification you put them in, they are always "all in" on supporting the mission. Egos and stereotypes get placed in check, and our country comes first.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
My platform message has been spread through a variety of channels. Through my Youtube channel, through our Facebook page Manpendent in Okinawa, and also I have written articles for Military Spouse magazine about the unknot male spouse that actually do exist. We have t-shirts made for male spouses celebrating our small but essential group. An we hold monthly meet ups encouraging those new to the island to join our page and engage in our activities. Whether they need a hand with something or just want to be social, we are there.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I hope to raise awareness and inclusion, that its not just men deploying and fighting, but strong women as well. People would be surprised to know that men also place their careers on hold while the spouse serves. Whether its a wife, husband or partner, male spouses play an important role, but are often left out of consideration in the broader picture of military spouse groups and events. We are a useful bunch that can also help all spouses with meal trains, transportation, questions about PCSing, and my goal is to have people think twice when adding a military spouse event, and to include our small but awesome group.