Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: RAF Mildenhall
Number of Deployments: 3
Number of PCS's: 2
Share your military spouse story:
I never thought I'd be a military spouse... To be honest, I was never even really interested in getting married. But they say when you meet the one, you'll know. I met my mine at a terrible office job in Long Island, New York. He was so charming that I decided to give this nice guy a shot, never knowing that we'd be where we are today. In agreeing to date this handsome Long Island boy, I had no idea that less than a year into our marriage, we would be separated for 9 months, followed by an international PCS, and then followed further by 3 deployments. Let's just say those base resilience classes were greatly appreciated. Thankfully, in the last 5 years, we've seen some amazing things and overcome some incredible obstacles. He's supported me through a career change, graduate school, and plenty of missteps while navigating this new military spouse life. I've held down the fort through 3 deployments, 2 changes of station, and a plethora of TDY's. Together, we've explored 20 foreign countries spanning 3 continents. I can't imagine anyone I'd rather have next to me in this fantastic adventure we call life.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
My philosophy of leadership hinges on promoting the best qualities of each person: empower others to be their best. My best quality is my passion for advocacy, which is exactly what I do in my role as the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate for all military affiliates residing in the United Kingdom, Norway, and Greece. My position requires me to be on-call 24/7, 365. Last year, I responded to 77 incidences of domestic violence. Working within the parameters of abuse created by the USAF, I assisted survivors in safety planning, finding emergency shelter, and coordinating their needs with command. I also trained over 3,000 individuals on how to recognize domestic violence and how to report their concerns.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
They say that your military community becomes your family and that couldn't be more accurate. Being a part of this family has been the most rewarding experience I've ever had. My involvement with the community at RAF Mildenhall includes my role as the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate (DAVA), vice president of the Mildenhall Spouse Association, president of the Community Scholarship Assocation, Co-founder of the Tri-base Networking Association, and host of a weekly trivia night. I'm especially proud of my time with the Spouse Association, which allowed us to give back over $40k in donations and scholarships to our local community. This is accomplished through countless hours of volunteering at our local thrift shop and coordinating our annual bazaar. It's a lot of work... But it's an amazing feeling to be able to give back.
Describe how you support your community:
My community is my rock. RAF Mildenhall has contributed to my growth personally and professionally. I strongly believe that each person, especially each spouse, deserves the chance to bloom where they're planted. While my primary platform focuses on the eradication of domestic violence, I am also passionate in supporting spouses in their journey towards education and employment. As the president of the Community Scholarship Association, I work with a team to distribute over $20k towards individuals seeking higher education. As the co-founder of the Tri-base Networking Association, I collaborate with community members to help spouses find not only jobs, but careers in our community. Education and employment are areas that require critical attention to grow. Invest in the spouse, invest in the mission.
What do you advocate for? Why?
My platform for the AFI Military Spouse of the Year is "Love Shouldn't Hurt: Breaking the Cycle of Violence and Promoting Healthy Communication." For the past 2 years, I have worked diligently within the USAF to advocate against the 4 types of domestic violence: physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect. I have personally supported over 100 survivors in their journey and educated over 3,000 active duty members. Understanding the cycle of violence and healthy communication are two critical interventions that I endeavor to teach on a daily basis. Whether it's speaking with new families on our base or leadership, it is pivotal that this message be understood: love shouldn't hurt. Along with healthy communication, I emphasize empowering survivors to take back control over their lives in the healthiest and most fulfilling means possible.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
My advocacy against domestic violence focuses on both the micro and macro details. Each fiscal year, I train commanders, key spouses, key spouse mentors, and all new families arriving to our base. I attend at bi-monthly conferences to maintain the most up-to-date knowledge about trends and resources. Finally, I coordinate a month of activities each October to make sure that our community is not only aware of the presence of domestic violence, but also to continue to reduce survivor stigma. These are all extra endeavors beyond the daily coordination of emergency support for survivors. This is not an issue that will be eliminated over night, but through education, conversations, and individual interventions, we take one step closer towards eradicating domestic violence.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
As your AFI Military Spouse of the Year, I want to continue to promote healthy communication and interventions to break the cycle of violence. Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect have no place in our community. There is hope for all survivors and I strive to make sure that that is well known. Each situation is unique, each journey is unique; I am dedicated to promoting the families within our community and the message that Love Shouldn't Hurt. It's time to speak out against domestic violence.