2. Not Affiliated With a Duty Station
Number of Deployments:
Number of PCS's:
Share your military spouse story:
As a former Marine and current Army wife, I have loved this adventure. From community to culture, I could not have imagined the blessing this life would bring. I started as a Marine Corps wife. My first marriage was one of the most challenging seasons of my life. Dealing with the infidelity of my husband along with a deployment and OCONUS move, our six years of marriage are ones I would prefer not to repeat. What I learned from that season, though, are lessons that I carry with me today, ones that spur me on to help others along the way. Following the divorce, I joined the Marine Corps. Although physically challenging, I loved my time of service, the camaraderie of fellow Marines, and the sense of mission. During this time, I met one amazing Soldier. He had been previously married as well to an active duty Soldier. She had passed away from Leukemia a few years before. We were both sure that we would never marry again because it had been hard for both of us. God had a different plan. We married nine months after we met. Two beautiful children, nines homes, and innumerable amazing adventures since, I would not trade it for the world. I resigned from the Marine Corps and became a full-time Army wife just before the birth of our first child. As much as I wish I could have served longer, I am grateful to be together as a family. Since becoming an Army wife, I worked to encourage other military spouses in this adventure as well. I write, speak at spouse-related events, retreats, and other venues, and have started a nonprofit organization that encourages military women and wives to grow in their faith because that is how I have survived, and even thrived, in the challenges of military life. I also serve our local church or chapel in multiple capacities, work with and lead Family Readiness Groups with our units, host get-togethers with with other military wives to provide community, and home school our children, which might be our greatest adventure.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I LOVE working with and serving our military community. I have served as a representative to the AFAP (Army Family Action Plan) Conference, in multiple capacities with our FRGs (Family Readiness Groups), through PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel), and attend and sometimes host spouse get-togethers within our unit or on the installation. We also stay active with homeschooling families on our installations as well as actively engage in Chapel activities including leading Financial Peace University, assisting with Vacation Bible School, and many other areas. We also find it important to be active in our local community outside our installation which we do mostly through homeschool groups and our local church.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have had amazing opportunities in the military communities in which we've lived. Through FRGs, I have had the opportunity to serve as Leader, Battalion FRG Newsletter Editor, as well as assisting with planning and executing events within the organization. I have served as representative and spokesperson for our unit at the AFAP Conference to include at our installation and regional conferences. I have lead in multiple capacities within PWOC from President to Bible Study teacher. I have also had the opportunity to speak at retreats and do leadership training for multiple PWOC Boards. I also serve as Director at Planting Roots, a nonprofit organization that encourages military women and wives to grow in their faith.
Describe how you support your community:
First, I support our military community by supporting my husband. Our marriage is a priority and we are on mission togethe- life is sweet. I love to encourage military spouses through formal and informal get-togethers, service through the units we're attached to, and getting involved with our local chapel. I know very well the fears, isolation, and anxiousness that can come from living military life. Pouring into other military spouses to help them find their purpose, cultivate their leadership ability and grow in their faith are priorities for me at every duty station. I have loved meeting and growing with some amazing military spouses over the years and have found a rich wealth of knowledge in the generational relationships I have formed with everyone from retirees to brand new military spouses. I think I grow and learn from them as much as they do from me.
What platform do you advocate for? Why?
Finding purpose in our place, learning to lead, and growing in faith are the three components of a platform for which I advocate. Many military spouses struggle with feeling like they don't matter or are just following their spouse around. I know that feeling well. Changing our perspective to understand that we all have a purpose in each place we are planted, to use our skills and gifts changes everything. Learning to lead others to do the same so we pass on a legacy of strong military spouses because strong families really do meaner stronger military members. Growing in faith is the one thing that has sustained me since my early years as a military spouse and it's what sustains me still. Teaching others, helping others find these same things so that they can not simply survive, but thrive in this military life is my mission.
How have you spread the message of your platform?
I do this mostly through personal relationship, speaking to one spouse at a time. I have, though, been given other opportunities outside of that to do the same. I have written a book (Olive Drab Pompoms) and have another in the works. I have taken the opportunity to speak to many different audiences from volunteer appreciation luncheons to PWOC retreats. I am also the Director of Planting Roots (www.plantingroots.net) and have, through this venue, been able to speak at conferences, conducted live broadcasting on social media, and many other platforms to encourage and equip military spouses. As a military spouse for 15 years, I have had growing opportunities to learn and grow and share those lessons with others. Military spouses are some of the most amazing people I know. While this life can be a challenge, I also believe it is one of the grandest adventures. Helping military spouses embrace the adventure is an amazing opportunity- one I never expected.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
Through the MSOY title, my desire would be to help military spouses find their purpose where they are, learn leadership to help others, and grow in their faith. I would love for military spouses to step out of isolation, fear, and anxiousness into hope, joy, and excitement for all this life has to offer. My desire for them is to step past "survive" and learn to "thrive," regardless of where they are planted. This includes speaking to them, encouraging them, teaching them, but also pointing them to resources that they can use throughout their time as a military spouse and beyond. I know what those feelings are and have walked through them myself. I know what it's like when marriage is hard, when deployments come, when fear tries to take over and your whole goal is just to survive another day. I get it. I also know that there is a better way. There is hope.
She is a wonderful wife, mother , friend and sister n law. She cares for others and does so much for everyone around her. She is absolutely one of the best people I know.
- by natalie yates