Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Langley Air Force Base
Number of Deployments: 7
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
My husband deployed shortly after we were married in 2009. On the advice of fellow military spouses, I took up new hobbies and activities to keep myself busy. I joined a spouses’ volleyball team, scrapbooking groups, a book club, and started sewing to keep myself busy during evenings at home alone. It ended up being one of the easiest deployments, which was a blessing because it built a foundation for growing resilient habits. I was two months pregnant with our first child when my husband left on his next deployment to Afghanistan. We knew that he wouldn’t get home until a few weeks after the due date, but we had a plan in place for my mother to come stay with me for the last month of pregnancy. Our baby, Cooper, did not get the memo about our plan. He arrived at only 29 weeks, very small for his gestational age and medically vulnerable. I quickly realized just how important my support group was during that difficult time. The military spouse community is generous, considerate, and invaluable. From the Key Spouses who relayed the urgent message to my husband and his command, to the friends who also had deployed spouses but took turns staying in the hospital with me so I was never alone, everyone helped. I happened to be two months pregnant this past year when my husband left for his most recent deployment. Of course, I had some worries about having another preemie, but I knew that if it happened again, I had the support group and resilience skills needed to overcome any complications. Spoiler alert: Our second son, Walker, came full term after my husband got home!
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
The support I received from the 819th RED HORSE Squadron Key Spouses after my son’s premature birth at 29 weeks is what ultimately inspired me to become a Key Spouse. I completed my Key Spouse training in 2016 at Langley AFB and helped support and build the program within the 733d Logistics Readiness Squadron. I was also part of the JBLE Key Spouse Tiger Team that was tasked to develop a plan to enhance the resources, training and communications support for all Langley Key Spouse teams. In 2018, I completed the Resilience Training Assistant course in order to help other military spouses develop skills to overcome challenges. My husband recently changed assignments to the 441st Vehicle Support Chain Operations Squadron and I quickly stepped up to be a Key Spouse with his new squadron. In 2019, I was elected to serve as Secretary on the Langley Spouses Club executive board. I am also currently on the planning committee for the 1st Annual Langley Spouses Dining In.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
While at Aviano AFB, I joined the Aviano Community of Enlisted Spouses and served as the Chairperson for the Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk. At our next base, Malmstrom AFB, I became involved in the Malmstrom Spouses Club and started helping at the 819th RED HORSE Squadron family events. Not long after arriving at Langley AFB, I earned a grant through the A&FRC to complete an event planning course which gave me valuable knowledge for helping to plan squadron events such as holiday parties. During deployments, I take advantage of every Hearts Apart event offered by the A&FRC and have attending Heart Link at each base. In 2018, the spouses’ club on Langley became an all ranks club and I immediately joined the board as the Publicity chairperson to help with the transition and volunteered weekly at the Langley Thrift Shop. In 2018, I also started volunteering at Operation Deploy Your Dress on Fort Eustis. I still volunteer there weekly and create the flyers for social media.
Describe how you support your community:
I am continually researching and sharing information about events and resources that are available to military spouses and families in the Hampton Roads community. Joint Base Langley-Eustis is geographically separate and many Air Force spouses forget that we can utilize the services available on Fort Eustis, so I always take the opportunity to encourage Air Force spouses to visit the Army base to explore the classes, support programs, and other services they offer. I have used my time volunteering on Fort Eustis to build relationships with Army spouses as well. I would love to see more events and opportunities to encourage spouses to network and socialize across all of the military branches.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I feel strongly that all military spouses can benefit from resilience training. Resilience is defined as the ability to withstand, recover and/or grow in the face of stressors and changing demands. It’s no secret military spouses face challenges and may need help building the skills to overcome the trials that come with being married to a military member. When I completed the Air Force Resilience Training Assistant course, I found that many of the modules can translate well to spouses’ needs. Each of the 4 pillars of the Comprehensive Airman Fitness are important in spouse resilience. The mental domain can help a spouse with decision making and positive thinking in the midst of stressful situations. The physical domain encourages healthy habits that are important for overall wellness. The social domain can build or strengthen an individual’s support system. The spiritual domain can help a spouse identify their core values and purpose.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
The good news is that there is already a great guide for resilience training; the bad news is that many spouses don’t really understand what resilience training is or how helpful it can truly be. This training is rarely offered to spouses and is sadly underutilized. I am currently working with two organizations on plans to get resilience training available to more spouses at Langley AFB. Training assistants have the ability to teach these skills to spouses. Now is the time to make the training more attractive and assessible.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
With or without the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title, I hope to spend the next year sharing resilience training with other military spouses and encouraging community building to help spouses through deployments. Resilience is a skill that I have built during my husband’s 16-year career, through five deployments and two short tours to Korea. It is a skill that I am continually practicing and strengthening. It is a skill that is so incredibly important to ensure a spouse not only survives but thrives in the military community.