Duty Station: Fort Knox
Number of Deployments: 7
Number of PCS's: 14
Share your military spouse story:
I am an Army Spouse of almost 20 years, but my story begins in the military long before this. I was born into a loving Navy family, joined the Army in college, then married into it, and served dual military with my husband, then I became an Army spouse. So literally I have been part of the military my entire life and have always held an ID card. I don't know what it's like to be a civilian! We have four children and have moved to 17 different addresses CONUS and OCONUS. We have survived 7 deployments (currently in our 7th) and still going strong.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have held leadership roles within the Family Readiness Groups over the entire time as a military spouse. Over this past year I acted as the battalion level Family Readiness Group leader organizing fund raisers, volunteer opportunities, and deployment / redeployment events. Most importantly, I find myself increasingly becoming the quiet leader. I work hard to connect with every spouse in the unit, inspiring them to participate and volunteer within the unit. I often begin the planning of an event, then let other spouse take the lead. I provide guidance and support to ensure their success, paving the way for the unit's future.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have been involved in the military community my entire life...my dad was my hero, a retired Navy Vietnam Vet, who recently passed away. I owe gratitude to him and my mom for teaching me love of my country and what it means to serve it, both as a soldier and now as a spouse. When I was a child I would help my mom with FRG meetings and help watch children in meetings as a teen. My volunteer rolled into my adulthood, serving the community while active duty and as a spouse. Different volunteer positions I have held over the years have been SFRG leader, volunteer coordinator, luncheon planner and childcare coordinator for various spouses clubs, key caller, CARE Team leader, chaplain assistant volunteer, PWOC hospitality chair, and PTO vice president in DODEA schools. I participated in decorating the Warrior Walk for the holidays at Fort Stewart, been a museum volunteer for the 3ID museum, and volunteered at many Gold Star family events. Those events are the most dear to my heart.
Describe how you support your community:
Supporting the military spouse community and developing a sense of mutual companionship is really important to me. At the 1st Theater Sustainment Command we have a group of Soldiers and Civilians constantly in a state of either deploying, deployed, or redeploying. I work to support each group in some way, be it hosting deployed spouses dinners where they can vent their frustration and know they are not alone, to ensuring spouses are recognized for their part during redeployment ceremonies. During the last installation Christmas toy drive, I helped organize the battalion effort that resulted in our battalion being recognized as the largest contributor supporting 67 families in need with Christmas gifts.
What do you advocate for? Why?
A platform that is important to me is to make sure our new spouses, and even our more "experienced" spouses feel connected into their community and to feel "included" in order to combat loneliness which can lead to depression. This can be achieved through improving communication within units and services in the military community. Sharing information and staying connected is vital in this community...many times I have talked to spouses who feel isolated and alone, and it's our duty as spouses to make each other feel at home.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I get involved and just start talking. Communicating and reaching out through phone calls, emails, text messages and social media are the easiest way to begin the connection among spouses. To feel "thought of" is the best feeling in the world, and I feel once you make a connection, it spreads. Talking with other units and other organizations about ways to reach out to our community are also key components. My message to others is that we are all in this together as spouses, so we need to help each other in any way we can. We are an "automatic" family and need a village of support, care, and understanding.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
There are so many deserving spouses that fit this title...I just hope to continue what I've always advocated for, title or no title, and that is for more inclusiveness among the spousal community and making empowerment among spouses a top priority.