Naval Base Kitsap- Bremerton
Number of Deployments:
Number of PCS's:
Share your military spouse story:
I met my husband 11 years ago, after learning the Navy life, In 2013 I married my husband, Thomas Boardwine (who is currently serving on the USS Connecticut) and we have four children together. We've moved a few of times I've had to learned to parent during the many underway with the challenges that come up in life. In 2018 at one of our FRG events I learned that one of his shipmate's wife, Rachel Cates, was in dialysis while battling End Stage Renal Failure and waiting on the transplant list. While we had only met at a couple of spouse events, I decided to try and help change her life, as she was such a nice person. I surprised Rachel at the Sub Ball with a birthday present; I was going to give her my kidney! Even though there was a health risk and there are ongoing changes to my body, and that I work and have four kids (from 4 to 13), I realized it was more important to help change her life by donating my kidney. I was healthy enough, and our operations were a success! Rachel is doing great and I taught my kids and family the importance of helping others if you can. Even my four year old can tell you about kidneys now (that I only have one and Rachel has three!). While it has affected my training and races, it was worth it. I made a permanent impact at our command, and everyone that has heard our story. I am just happy to have helped another great Navy wife get healthy. I starting work as a machinist at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard when I was 16 years old. I understand the importance of keeping our fleet ready not only for our sailors but to support all branches of the military, and have worked the last 18 years there to get our ships and boats back out to sea. It really hit home when my brother, who is Army Special Forces, was shot in Afghanistan and he was able to call in one of the aircraft carriers I had just worked on to complete the mission after the wounded were evacuated. It reinforced how my daily job here supported all of our military operations.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I started working for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard eighteen years ago, and have worked on all types of vessels, but have focused on the submarine community for the past eight years. I have traveled the world to work on them and keep them deployed, and am known as an expert on submarine systems and working closely with ship's crews. I am a second level supervisor that works to constantly improve our maintenance processes, reduce time to get them back in service, and help the crews out daily to help them better achieve their mission. I actively support my husband's boat and their Family Readiness Group, leading communications when they are deployed and helping the other wives understand procedures, what to expect, and even helping watch their children or pets when they need help. I try to help them overcome obstacles to be ready to support their husbands when they get home.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I am seen as an expert resource in ship maintenance, called on by all submarine crews in our community to help solve problems or obtain parts. I am a second level manager responsible for leading others, managing work, communicating with the COs and all levels of their crews. This network has also helped as my husband has moved between boats, and I am easily integrated in to their teams and families. In our FRG, I am seen as an experienced spouse, offering advice and emotional support to the other wives. We help each other with logistics, household and childcare support. I have even taken another sailor's dog when he couldn't take it on a reassignment overseas! I am always willing to help others, whether it is babysitting or helping with communications. I was also recognized by the last CO of the USS Connecticut for my support of the crew and their wives, even giving up my kidney for another wife.
Describe how you support your community:
As a working mother of four, one with special behavioral needs, I understand the struggles and stresses that military spouses go through. I have had to deal with many crises and needs of other spouses, along with dealing with my husbands long deployments with no communication. I have also had to help my Army brother who has been on seven long deployments take care of his household back home, taking in his dog, helping him move between bases, and now helping his wife and kids deal with her third round of cancer while he is deployed. I help other spouses deal with issues and to make the transition easier for their husbands when they get back home. My goal is to make our military feel supported at all times, and I try to do this at a personal level, affecting a person and their family every small opportunity I get. I also participate in many runs for our military, and have gotten all four of our children involved in this to make supporting our military fun and healthy!
What platform do you advocate for? Why?
I have not focused on a platform, I just live my daily life helping our military at home and at work. I feel we all need to help and support them as they are giving up a lot to serve us. I try and show my children and others the need to live a healthy life in service to others. I was lucky to be healthy enough to have donated a kidney to Rachel and then to continue to work and support others. I enjoy supporting our local Pee Wee Association, helping raise funds and keeping our kids involved in sports to keep them integrated in the community.
How have you spread the message of your platform?
I have not worked to actively spread any messages; I do communicate a lot through facebook and Instagram :) And I am an active runner at many races.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I am honored to have been nominated; I was performing a selfless act to help another Navy wife be able to live a normal life. I would like to show others that living day to day helping others in small ways can be recognized and valued; I just serve others every day, whether at work in a naval shipyard or after work at our community Pee Wee fundraising or even just picking up a sailor that can't make it through the snow to get to his boat and want others to do that in our community. Our military go through tough times, especially on deployments, and we need to support and value them every day we are with them.
This time last year, I was preparing for dialysis while battling End Stage Renal Failure and waiting on the transplant list. I had met Jen at a couple of spouse events while our husbands were deployed on the USS Connecticut. Despite only meeting a couple of times, Jen surprised me at last year's Sub Ball with a birthday present. Reading the accompanying card revealed that she had been tested, was my perfect match, and would be giving me HER kidney! Even though Jen and her husband have 4 children, she stepped up to save my life, knowing that she could lose her own. She has made a permanent impact on my friends & family, our husbands' command, and every stranger that hears our story. No one deserves this award this year more than Jen...she is the best example of what a military spouse should be. The US military should consider themselves blessed to have such a courageous and selfless spouse who will always answer the call, even though she isn't the one who signed on the dotted line.
- by rachael cates