Duty Station: Red River Army Depot
Number of Deployments: 5
Number of PCS's: 10
Share your military spouse story:
My story begins back in college when I met my amazing husband. We both went to small colleges 15 minutes apart that had a combined ROTC program. I knew there was this guy named “Harless” in our program, but I didn’t really know who he was until we were paired up together during a class at the local shooting range. His deep blue eyes instantly had me! The next day after PT he invited me to a movie, but I was heading home after class for the week of Thanksgiving. A week later we went out on our first date to Walmart and Wendy’s, and then after only dating for 4 weeks I knew that I would marry him! Shortly after he commissioned 2 years later, we were engaged on the 4th of July, and then were married 5 months after that. He was 2 years a head of me in school and getting married and having a baby threw off my graduation timeline. A few years later I finally commissioned and began our journey of being a dual military couple. I served 4 years active duty with a deployment where we had both deployed to Iraq and our two young children at that time(18 months and 3 years old) went to live with their grandparents for a year. Leaving our babies behind was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but knew they would be safe and well taken care of. After deployment I made the decision to not stay in after my obligation time was completed so I could raise our babies and provide our family some stability. Shortly after starting my terminal leave, we welcomed our third child into the family. In 14 years, we have had a combined 5 deployments and 10 PCS’s. It has been quite an adventure with all the ups and downs that we have had, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. All the experiences, friendships, and adventures a long the way have made it worth it.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Over the past year I have been able to pull spouses from multiple branches and backgrounds to work through PCS reform together. Together as a collective we have been able to bridge the gap between military families and the moving industry in creating resolutions together to improve the process and experience while bringing this issue to the national spotlight. As the lead advocate for PCS reform I was able to get Congressional attention on the issues that families face, lobby for the Transcom Posture Hearing to include questions on the PCS process, and get several initiatives implemented with Transcom to improve the process for military families. Together my team has been able to provide feedback directly to the service branches to better the service specific regulations, and close the divide between military families, DoD Personal Property Officials, Transcom and the moving industry.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Supporting military spouses and their families is at the center of my heart. Over the past year I was involved with my husband’s unit Soldier Family Readiness Group serving as the battalion FRA playing an instrumental part in setting up company SFRG’s, advising and mentoring the SFRG leaders from my experience as a leader, fundraising, coordinating welcome home baskets for soldiers living in the barracks, assisting in supporting families as needed and organizing the new baby gifts. I also served on the executive board of the Fort Eustis PWOC as the administrative coordinator responsible for the organization, communication and supporting board members. As a family we also enjoy our yearly traditions of baking cookies and making goodie bags for our installation first responders, and gate check points as a token of our gratitude. I am also heavily involved in educating families and service members about the PCS process, regulations, and how to be best prepared for their upcoming move.
Describe how you support your community:
My favorite way of supporting our community is to just show up. I think it is important that we show up for each other no matter what the circumstances are, and if we can help then we do it. There have been countless times when I have been able to show up and help unpack a box, bring a dinner, feed a baby, or to watch kids when others needed to see a doctor. Showing up for each other is the most important thing we can do. Within my PCS advocacy work, I have been able to help families have their voices heard with their experience, work with spouses from all branches on the Transcom Personal Property Relocation Panel and within our spouse network to better educate and support through PCS issues ensuring that service members and their spouses are better equipped and prepared for their next PCS. Another favorite way is to support my friends endeavors like volunteering with Operation Deploy Your Dress at their DC popup, sharing the #GivingTuesdayMilitary and She Loves Out Loud movements.
What do you advocate for? Why?
My passion is advocating for PCS reform in order to improve the process and experience for everyone. The summer of 2018 saw repeated horrible experiences, which led to my change.org petition calling for change to the process, and transparency in holding moving companies accountable. Since then I have been able to work with Transcom, Congress, and members of the moving associations and industry to address issues and implement solutions. My goals through this process is to educate families on the regulations, policies, procedures, and how to be best prepared for your move. I will continue to ask the hard questions, and push for positive changes that support and protect our families to make sure bad moves the exception and not the expectation. PCS Reform is not always seen as the pretty platform to advocate for, but it is a much-needed platform that needs positive changes to be made, and a brighter spotlight.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
The PCS Reform journey started at the end of August 2018 with my change.org petition that resonated with over 100,000 people who signed it. I am also an admin of 2 Facebook groups – Lost During My PCS and Your Smooth Move which have combined over 27,000 members, and a page – Military Spouse Chronicles with over 12,000 followers where I share the most up to date information about changes in the regulations, educate on policies, and use the moving industry relationships I have built over the past 18 months to mediate through issues to improve the process. Using my YouTube Channel, last summer I debuted “The PCS Documentary Series” which gave a firsthand look for Transcom and the moving industry at the experience in our family’s homes. Daily, I continue to update military families on the changes in the DTR, JTR, how to prepare, encourage them own their move, and how to navigate the claims process if needed, while continuing to talk with media personnel about the changing environment.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
With the title I would hope to continue to push PCS Reform in order to reach a complete resolution for all sides and to ensure the PCS horror stories of the past stay in the past. With that I would continue to bridge the gap between military families, US Transcom and the moving industry and to improve those relations for better outcomes and experiences. I would continue to work on the opportunities to ensure families have their voices heard through PCS Reform, and that they are educated and equipped to handle their next PCS. I would also work to encourage more military spouses to show up and support each other during the hard times experienced during military life, and to encourage the younger spouses to get involved in their communities. Finally, I would continue to support and share the endeavors, movements, and organizations of my fellow friends and military spouses.