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Share your military spouse story:
They call us the Davis Bunch. We are a beautifully blended family with six children. I have three children and my husband has three children. To make it a little weirder, we have three girls and three boys. Brandy Bunch might be a better way to explain our family. Three years ago I married a fireman that played Army one weekend a month and two weeks a year. A year into our marriage my husband took the position as a Troop Commander. I had no idea this was opening the door for our lives to be changed forever. Shortly after that my husband went Army full time. In addition to all the changes being made in my husband’s career, I was asked to participate in our Squadron Family Readiness Group. The only knowledge I had of FRG was from the TV show Army Wives. I had no idea what in store for me. But I said ok. A few months later I found myself being voluntold I was going to be the Troop FRG Leader for my husband’s Troop. I spent months researching, attending webinar trainings and socializing with people to find out how to be the best FRG Leader I could possibly be. After two years of being the FRG Leader, I was voluntold to reach out to the community to be the face of our Squadron. I became quick friends with other spouses that were not Army. I was invited to several leadership events and asked to help plan community activities. I discovered how much of a passion I had not to just help my own Army spouses but all military spouses. My eyes were open to different issues that surround the military community that I was never aware of before. For the first time in my life I felt like I was helping make a difference. I have met a lot of interesting people. I have heard a lot of sad stories. I have had the privilege to hug, laugh, cry, mentor, hold new babies and open my home to the families. The last three years I have learned so much and have been pushed outside of my comfort zone so many times. I will always be grateful for being voluntold to step into a leadership role
Describe your involvement in the military community:
How am I involved in the military community? That is a big question with a simple answer. I get involved by serving others. I serve where I am needed. Every day I find a way to serve a new purpose. It may be as small as giving a new mom a baby onesie with the Squadron logo, a phone call to a family member to check in, designing a t-shirt for Month of the Military Child, passing out goodie bags for Spouse Appreciation Month, or preparing dinner for 1000 serving members. Some days it might be as big as attending a funeral for an airman and serving the family, organizing a food train for a grieving family, babysitting for a struggling mom, hugging a spouse that is broken or mentoring a family member when their world just fell apart. The best part of being involved with military organizations is there is always an opportunity to help. I have the privilege to get to know someone a little better, volunteer to help with many different projects and influence someone’s life in a positive way.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
An example of my leadership in the community is through the leadership role with the Family Readiness Group in my Squadron. When I accepted the leadership role there was no family support. I quickly recruited twelve volunteers and began to creating a phone tree, a monthly newsletter and a social media presence. I was then able to get information out to family members in a timely manner to keep them updated. The phone tree led to routine well care calls. It was the first time this level of communication had been established. I did not stop there. I created We Care Nights for spouses to get support and develop friendships. The next step out of my comfort zone was seeking support and resources from other parts of the community. I wanted to expand outside of my Squadron and my own spouses. I am currently working on developing a mentor program for all military children. This program will encouraging young spouses and their children to get together for weekly play dates.
Describe how you support your community:
I support my military community by showing up. Whoever they are. Wherever they go. Whatever they do. If it matters to our military members, no matter their branch my family and I are there. Army National Guard Family Day for our unit but also the Air Force Reserve events. Organizing food for an Army Guard family at a time of loss, then planning a post funeral reception for an Air Force member lost to soon. Planning family get-togethers during our annual training and working with local Air Force spouses to establish the same after short order deployment orders came through this last year. There are so many ways people can show their military support but it all starts with showing up. I believe my number one job in raising my six children is to teach them to be confident and patriotic leaders. It is my hope to leave an impression for others to show up and support their military.
What platform do you advocate for? Why?
The platform I am advocating is for no spouse to do life alone. Since losing a friend and fellow volunteer last year, this topic has become very important to me. As a military spouse you are expected to be strong for your kids and your spouse. But what nobody tells you is how to be strong for yourself. There is no training to teach us how to do this. Military life it is lonely, it is hard to make friends, to figure out where you fit in and how to juggle a household as a single mom. I have learned these things from personal experience and other spouses. It is difficult to get the support you need when you just cannot do it anymore. I want to spread the word that no spouse should do life alone. I want to create an environment where spouses have a safe place to go. Someone to talk to, help connect them to resources they need and they have a support system in a family crisis. The service members watch out for one another at all costs. The spouses should too. After all, we are family.
How have you spread the message of your platform?
I spread my platform by volunteering full time with a military nonprofit. The focus is on giving military spouses and children encouragement to share their stories and know their influence. We do this through many initiatives. The newest being the Kindness Krewe mentor program for youth and a Kid Korner indoor play place to bring spouses together for fun and fellowship. The main goal is to bring together young military spouses. This creates an unbreakable bond with strangers they are now doing life with. I also work with community civilian leaders to tackle the suicides with military spouses and children. This is the one topic no one wants to discuss. By launching these programs, we can make a positive impact on military families, create the safe environment for them and encourage them to know their purpose. #influencer
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
If I were honored to receive the Spouse of the Year title, I would be a voice for military spouses in the reserve component. The reserve component has several unique qualities, obstacles and opportunities that are not always highlighted. As a spouse of only three years, I have learned quickly how to take the unique qualities of this lifestyle and use it to make a positive impact. This title would enable me to take what I have learned in a short amount of time and apply it to other new reserve component spouses. Younger spouses tend to forget they have a voice or they are part of this great big military family. I look forward to collaborating and cross-pollenating ideas with other military spouses across all branches. They say iron sharpens iron. Our military spouses are amazingly unique and I look forward to having a seat at this amazing table.
I am honored to nominate my teammate Megan for this amazing recognition. Megan came into our life a year ago and has made us a much better and more rounded organization. We are in a heavy Air Force community and Megan has become the face of Army Guard, and ultimately all ‘other’ branches, for our community. While she has only been a military spouse for 3 years, she has a dedication to military family support I have not seen in many spouses. Megan is a part of our Warrior Network Team as a full-time volunteer in our Veteran’s Center, on the Chamber’s Military Relations Committee, and a vital member of our Northwest Louisiana Military Support Foundation. Megan volunteers every week at our MEPS to see off every new military trainee from all 5 branches. She talks with each recruit and their family members about the Red Cross and emergency contact. She is an award winning FRG, and helped found our local Blue Star Moms group this year. She is a dedicated wife, mom of 6, and college student.
- by trey mcguire