Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Number of Deployments:
Number of PCS's:
Share your military spouse story:
Once upon a time in a galaxy not so far away lived an Army Spouse. Her name was Kelly. Kelly was a Jedi Master at being a mother, friend, and an army spouse. Kelly tackled everything with an adventurous spirit, whether that meant packing and unpacking her family eleven times in her fifteen years of marriage or moving overseas three times. Let’s rewind a few years and see how it all began. Many moons ago Kelly’s Great Grandmother (ninety-two years of age) met a soldier at church. She was so impressed by him that she immediately called her granddaughter and said “Kelly, I have met a man for you!” While Kelly was slightly embarrassed by her great grandmother playing match maker, she agreed to meet the soldier and their love story began. They were married a year later. Fast forward fifteen years and they have two amazing hooahs (children), two big dogs, and a cat that share in this adventure called military life. From early on, Kelly demonstrated faith, kindness, loyalty, and encouragement to her family and those around her. Always looking for ways to build someone up and help them succeed in their journey. Kelly has had many roles, other than mommy, throughout her spouse journey, if she had to pick just three recent roles that have impacted herself and those around her, they would be Senior Spouse Representative at the Army War College, Resident Canine Trainer for the American Red Cross’ Animal Visitation Program, Campy Humphreys, Korea, and Military Brat Event Coordinator, every duty station CONUS AND OCONUS. Kelly takes on each role with gusto and gives her all… always looking for ways to serve and to leave her mark, leaving things better than she found them. Kelly always looks for the good in people and looks for ways to make others succeed. The Force is strong with Kelly, with every task that must be done she follows Master Yoda’s wise advice…. “Do or do not, there is no try.”
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I am a professional volunteer. Serving as a CYS Coach, VBS Leader, FRG Leader and Advisor, supporting teachers in the schools, Spouse’s Club board member, PTSO and Landstuhl Fisher House volunteer. While stationed in Germany, I took my two children regularly to visit with the Wounded Warriors, training my kids to look outside of themselves and look for ways to show kindness. While stationed in Korea, I visited the orphanages with puppets and my service dog. I also train dogs and volunteer with the Red Cross’ Animal Visitation Program as their Lead Canine Trainer. I specialize in training dogs for emotional support, therapy work and PTSD support. I often use my dog in children’s hospitals with amputees as a balance and stability dog, demonstrating how a service animal will change their quality of life. I also lent my dog and time to soldiers battling PTSD and for emotional support in Special Victim Cases and Trials to support adult or child victims who were required to testify.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Almost 16yrs as a military spouse has given me many opportunities to lead. At the Army War College, I was a Senior Spouse Representative linking the General to the spouses. I was responsible for gathering and disseminating information, leading groups to develop self-growth and how to be a mentor. I now serve in an informal leadership role. Putting my time into our future leaders, our children. I host Hails and Farewells for the kids so that no child feels alone, unwelcomed, or replaced. At each duty station, I gather a core group of kids and teach them to be comfortable and confident to seek out the new kid and how to find common interests. I then host games of manhunt and other group activities. Watching these young leaders of tomorrow become confident is amazing. Creating this community takes teamwork. Inviting parents to come be active is key. When our family PCS’s we hand over the leadership to another family to continue the mission.
Describe how you support your community:
My community doesn’t just reside within the boarders of the installation; but in the civilian world as well. Looking for ways to support my civilian community family and help them reach their goals has always been a priority. For several years I volunteered for wear blue: run to remember. As a meet up leader and Regional Coordinator I was responsible for creating and marking routes, advertising, networking, and hosting the meetups as well as keeping the leaders that were in my region on point. My expertise in canine training has allowed me to help fellow military spouses with the behavioral issues their canines have. Volunteering to lead group classes of instruction as well as meeting with them one on one to help train and bring some balance to their homes. I lead hikes to explore the host country. Building relationships through adventure one step at a time. I also am a hands-on Bible teaching, science experiment object lessons, and Big Idea teacher for our church.
What platform do you advocate for? Why?
My platform is helping our children thrive in this military environment by giving them and their parents the tools to anchor them. My experience as a mother, senior spouse, my personal successes and failures have allowed me to help spouses and kids. I offer deployment tools on how to not just survive but to THRIVE, growing stronger together, as well as learning to look outward, to have perspective. We all are on the life journey; however, we all have different detours and routes. It’s important for spouses to understand that we all fail everyday in some way; but its how we move forward that defines us. Take the smallest success and build on that. Children learn by example- choosing happy is a learned behavior. Advocating for our greatest resource, our future leaders is where my journey has led me. Making sure that each child feels accepted, encouraged, and inspired to pass it on.
How have you spread the message of your platform?
I have had the privilege of being a military spouse for almost 16yrs and have served my family and country the best that I can. Making myself available when I’m asked to be the spokesperson for the military whether in the schools, CYS, church, neighborhood and communities. Taking my gifts into the schools and speaking to parents on key issues and offering support where needed. I have hosted numerous parent development meetings where I share tools that I have come up with and have had success with. Further, by sharing my failures and what has not worked is essential too. Parenting is hard work it is not for the faint of heart and then add the military life into the mix and the stresses that we face can be daunting for us, just think how it impacts the children. Taking the time to make an impact in one community, one neighborhood at a time creates a ripple effect. Like a pebble in the pond, these empowered kids and parents will empower and inspire others.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I would love to have the opportunities to work with Army Community Services, Army Family Team Building. Sharing the deployment techniques, we have learned as a family and be able to start sharing information military-wide on how to empower these kids to not just survive; but to thrive. My Hails and Farewells have left a lasting impact on these kids as well as the neighborhood inclusive games and inspiration to reach out to others. Being able to reach families and kids whether in the schools or other organizations- getting their neighborhoods up and running with inclusive events and building communities that have a lasting impression. My goal is to take my message of encouragement and empowerment to formal channels and help military spouses and children to better themselves and continue to grow, teaching them how to help others through the challenges that we face as a military community.
In February of this year I had the opportunity to travel to South Korea with my husband on one of his Marine Corps TADs. A local military family offered to watch our girls for us so that we could take this trip. I immediately and excitedly starting scouring social media to identify where I might go hiking during the day in Korea while my husband was working. I reached out on a local military affiliated facebook page and connected with Kelly. Kelly's husband was stationed in Korea and she very quickly reached out to me, offered to pick me up at the lodge on Osan, take me to a Korean National Park and hiked 10 miles with me! We were instant friends, Kelly has a heart to welcome and teach people, she cares for everyone she meets. I see it all the time in her work with her children, neighbors, church, any touch point she can make. She has a servant heart and is a true supporter of our military community.
- by stephanie muckey