Juvilyn Garcia

Branch: Marine Corps

Duty Station: Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

Number of Deployments: 3

Number of PCS's: 3

Share your military spouse story:
I was born and raised a military brat and saw the joys and the trials of what it meant to grow up in this kind of lifestyle but little did I know I’d follow those same steps as a spouse. I met my husband, who was also a military brat, back in grade school in 1997 in Okinawa, Japan. Time made us go separate ways only to reconnect us 16 years later during my husband’s first duty station which happened to be Okinawa, Japan, while I was visiting my parents at my dad’s second to last duty station before he retired. True love has a purpose because reconnecting led us right back to where we first met to where we are today. My husband experienced his first duty station unaccompanied in Okinawa, Japan. He had a lot of MEU deployments so I opted to finish nursing school while he finished that tour. We then joined together to experience our first duty station as a married couple in Quantico, Virginia then headed three years later to Camp Pendelton, California to now MCRD San Diego. I am a Dermatology Nurse whose taking time off to care for our four boys, with two of them being twins while my husband completes his special 09-11 billet as a drill instructor aboard MCRD San Diego. I was pregnant with the twins when we first stepped foot into this crazy depot lifestyle and getting involved was step 1. Watching other depot families struggle and experience the depot lifestyle without getting help or using the resources available made me want to be the change I wished to see for depot families. I live a crazy, busy life with my boys alone but it was important to me to make sure families from our Battalion were getting taken care of. I’ve seen more divorces and separations than I’d like to admit being aboard MCRD San Diego but now I look at long-term military spouses with awe and cheer them on because to be a military spouse takes so much sacrifice and dedication. Military life is a life of sacrifice, but the saying is true we are the strength behind those boots.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
In the past, Charlie Company had a small group of wives that worked remotely. We got together a few times a month, but otherwise relied on email and Facebook events to stay on the same page. Over time, I noticed one of our most active spouses seemed to be disengaging. They didn’t bring the same enthusiasm and smile to events I previously saw. I wanted to make a change. I took responsibility and reached out to her and immediately began talking with her to meet up. I started the 1 on 1 by apologizing that no one had been checking in with her.  Then we started talking about how she was doing. It was then I discovered she was struggling. She needed help, she was on the verge of divorce, she needed someone to listen. I listened and checked in on her. All it took was making time to listen and taking action on what I heard. So at all events I’m hosting or attending I make it a point to introduce myself and start talking. Because now I know the silence of a spouse can mean so much more.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I started out as the Family Readiness Assistant for 1st Batallion’s Charlie Company in the beginning of 2019; volunteering my time to make sure every company event was organized, perfect and that every spouse and drill instructor felt welcomed. I made sure potlucks were enough to feed all the hats not just my husband. As I became more involved I took on the responsibility of being the Team Mom for my son’s sports on base making sure their sports teams always felt satisfied and happy throughout the season. I wanted to do more for our Battalion as I truly believe “team work makes the dream work,” so I became the Command Team Advisor for 1st Battalion this past September and have worked hard doing all I can to make sure every single spouse and family feels taken care of and welcomed in our Battalion. It’s not easy, and sometimes it’s a lot but it’s hard enough being a military spouse so having a good support system can be a game changer during a rough duty station.

Describe how you support your community:
Community and connectedness is often lacking within military spouses and it shows. I never knew the value of a volunteer until I became one but it was volunteering that brought me out of my shell to build 1st Batallion for what it is today. The ability for me to gather spouses from my battalion to help me achieve and make an event successful is amazing. 99% of the time I put the Battalion’s needs before my own effortlessly to assure that everyone is being taken care of. I influence others that their support matters by involving them in all activities and connecting their kids with other kids their age creating bonds so that they’ll want to return to future events. It’s important for military spouses to know they’re not alone, that while their husbands may not be present, someone is there willing to be there for them. Not all spouses come out to everything I host, but if I’m able to at least touch the heart of one spouse, I feel like I’ve done my part and that’s enough for me.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I strongly advocate for Empowering Military Spouses and Military Family Support. I think it’s so crucial to being a military spouse to lift each other up and build together rather than alone. It takes a village to be a military spouse and you’re only successful with the linking of others going through the same struggles, trials and joys. Also, I think having Military Family Support is so important as well. Making sure that we have the right amount of resources available for every need especially when we don’t have our husbands around can make a stressful day so much less stressful.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I truly believe behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back. Empowering other military spouses is so crucial to our lifestyle. No one will understand the hardship of moving every 3 years to another duty station and starting over or dealing with deployments and having to hold down the fort for many months at a time or having late night conversations with only your children because they’re all you have when your husbands are away like another military spouse. It’s so rewarding for me to watch other spouses cheer each other on and lift each other higher during their successes. And it’s even more humbling to watch other military spouses help each other. Currently, I am the voice of our 1st Battalion here on MCRD San Diego. Whether it be speaking with the Command Team directly or working with MCCS about our likes and dislikes, I do everything in my power to make sure the spouses & families have what they need to make this duty station more bearable.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
With the title of AFI Military Spouse of the Year, I hope to accomplish a sense of hope for those military spouses who think being a military spouse is impossible. As a mom of four and dealing with my husband being a drill instructor, this has by far been the hardest duty station we have yet to experience, but every duty station is what you make it. Being a military spouse is far from easy but everyday we are doing it. It’s a life, but it’s our life. I truly believe the more you give, the more you receive and I hope with receiving this title I show other military spouses you can do anything, anything at all, but the first step to doing so is getting out there.