Paulette Suzanne Fryar

Branch: Coast Guard

Duty Station: Personnel Service Command USCG Headquarters

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 6

Share your military spouse story:
My husband and I went to high school together, we reconnected 16 years later, married in 2006 and instantly had a blended family of four boys. Since being married, we have performed multiple PCS transfers. Directly after the wedding, my sons (ages 7&8)and I moved to SE Alaska from our hometown of Vancouver, WA. Personally, I had never lived anywhere but my hometown near my parents, siblings and lifelong friends. Getting remarried, moving to a place I had never lived nor experienced, and living a new life as a military spouse while suddenly raising a blended family of 4 boys (ages 6,7,8 &8 at that time), often on my own, was a huge challenge. Since that original move, we have lived in Juneau, AK, Portland, OR, Portsmouth, VA, Seattle, WA (2 tours), Washington DC and soon to be Scott AFB, IL. Upon transferring to Washington DC in 2017, we became empty nesters and we moved across the country away from the boys and both sides of our family. All the boys are young men now, carving their life into adulthood. This was a new stage in our lives, more so, my life as a mom. I'm now learning to reestablish myself in yet another new community. With our kids living 3,000 miles away, I worry about them starting adulthood on the right path and I'm figuring out my new motherly role, in an extremely busy community of Washington DC. I have used my new found time to volunteer and participate in multiple organizations and I am enjoying this new period of life as a military spouse and all the ways that I can give back.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have served on various Coast Guard Spouse Club Boards over the past 13 years. I currently serve on the Executive Board of the Coast Guard Spouse's Club as the Executive Secretary, and as the Social Media Coordinator. In that same club, from 2018-2019, I served as a Ways and Means Co-Chair. I have served as the Vendor Co-Chair for the Belvoir Spouse's Club since 2019. I was appointed to serve as an Ambassador for the Joint Armed Forces Of Washington Luncheon in 2018 and 2020. During the government shutdown in the beginning of 2019, I was involved in helping to identify and distribute assistance in the form of food, diapers, gas cards and other necessities to Coast Guard families on Fort Belvoir through the Chapel, which was a humbling and rewarding experience.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
In Juneau, AK - I was a member of the CG Spouses Club and I volunteered with the Holiday Project for local unprivileged families. Our next two duty stations, I was very busy raising the boys and volunteering in their schools with PTA, activities and sports. During our time in Seattle, WA, I volunteered with the PacNWCG Spouse Club as a connector of spouses. I have a passion for helping ensure that no spouse feels alone. I hosted various gatherings, picnics, and events to help connect USCG families in that area. In the Washington DC area, now that my children are grown, I volunteer as a Mentor Mom at the Fort Belvoir Chapel in the MOPS program. It is my desire that no young military mother feels alone. I have volunteered with the Holiday Giving Project for USCG families for the last two years. I served on the Scholarship Fundraising Committee at Fort Belvoir from 2017-19, where we raised over 20,000 last year. I am also a member of the Capitol Area Military Spouse Club.

Describe how you support your community:
I am a member of the Dale City Moose Lodge where we raise money for Wreaths Across America, Moose Heart Orphanage and Moosehaven Retirement Community. There is a strong military presence at our Moose Lodge. Separately, I was interviewed for an article that was published in Christianity Today on my experience of transitioning from raising a family in the military to being an empty-nester . I have a passion to share my experiences helping other military spouses and mothers navigate the challenges and constant change we encounter.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I am an advocate for military spouses with young children. I love volunteering with the Military Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group at Fort Belvoir and I plan to continue volunteering as we PCS this year. MOPS International has a military division and recognizes the importance of support for the family unit, which I feel is so instrumental in assisting young military families in maintaining thriving and healthy relationships. I am also an advocate for military spouses having an income source that can transfer with them. I have a direct sales jewelry business, and I have many military spouses on my team. I love providing support for these women and helping them seize the opportunity to have their own businesses. It is a great platform to connect spouses together, build confidence, and provide a resourceful network.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
In my volunteering at Fort Belvoir MOPS, I have been able to provide support for many spouses with young children. They know I am a shoulder to cry on, a voice to listen and arms with a hug. I desire to do my part to help them feel encouraged, hopeful, supported and loved. Now that my boys are grown, personally there is nothing more fulfilling than investing into these young mothers and providing encouragement by simply being the voice to say, "You are doing a great job" and "You are NOT alone". In my career, I am a leader in my direct sales company. I have many military spouses on my team and I have been asked to speak at our national convention as well as our leadership academy. I am able to use that platform to inspire and show support for all spouses and bring more awareness to the challenges we face as military spouse business women.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
Now that my own children are grown, it is my turn to give back to those, as many great mentors did for me. The return on investment is so rewarding, witnessing these young military spouses and moms prosper in their own lives and helping overcome those struggles. There were mentors and military spouses before me that made such a difference when my boys were young. If I could be supportive in any capacity that eases their journey, that is priceless. I feel that I am called to serve others, unconditionally love my family, support my husbands military career and proudly have the title of "mom." I am humbled and honored by this consideration, and will continue strongly advocating for military spouses and moms.