Branch: Marine Corps
Duty Station: Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
Number of Deployments: 5
Number of PCS's: 2
Share your military spouse story:
I am a Marine spouse of 15 years. I am also a mother of two spunky girls that keep me hopping. I am an instructional systems designer by trade and I love to meet new people. I met my husband at a church lock in and we have been together ever since. Even though the first four years of our relationship was long distance (me being away at college and him going through basic training and then moving to his first duty station), we have managed to navigate this thing called "Military Life". During my last year of college, we got married and I began my journey as a military spouse. I had just started my first semester in college when 9/11 happened. That is when my boyfriend (now husband) made the choice to go into the Marines. I was terrified but I was also proud of him for wanting to serve his country. I decided to stay in school and get a degree that would travel with me so I could have my own career while supporting his. I am a person that doesn't let the grass grow under my feet. When we moved to my husband's first duty station, I started working at the local community college and worked my way up to Instructional Technologist. A year into that positions, I decided to get my Master's degree in Instructional Technology. During his first deployment, I got involved in many clubs and organizations in my community. I have also worked on a military contract for 8 years in which I developed training for the military community and for those who work with the military.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I am a person that sees a need and finds ways to fulfill it. Our community was hit hard by Hurricane Florence. The school my daughter attends had many students that were displaced. The PTA at the school was non-existent that year. When the school started this past fall, my daughter's principal appointed me PTA president. With the assistance of a great team of ladies, we increased the PTA participation at the school. The first event we held raised $2,100 in which we have been able to pour back into the school in scholarships for field trips, teacher appreciation gifts, family fun nights, etc. I am also a Girl Scout Daisy Troop leader. About 40 percent of the girls in my troop are military children. I love that I can center lessons around their unique experiences of being both a Girl Scout and a military child. I am also an active member of the local theater community. When I am not acting on stage, I am assisting with sound (microphones, sound board, etc.) or as a stage manager.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Since becoming a military spouse, I was a member of the Enlisted Spouse Club. I was also a Key Volunteer Coordinator for one of my husband's deployments. I created a database for the CO's wife so she could have a repository for all of the spouses of the deployed Marines. I set it up so that a click of a button, she have information on who was pregnant and due during the deployment, who stayed locally or who moved back home during the deployment. I also created over 250 Christmas ornaments for my husband's command that was given out to each family that year as a Christmas present. I also attend various squadron events and base wide events. I also help lead worship for the Base Chapel service that is held on Tuesday nights. I am the only civilian on the team. I got an email that they were starting a Tuesday night worship service and they needed help with their sound board. After talking to the Marine that set this up, he mentioned that he needed vocalists. And now I help lead worship.
Describe how you support your community:
I try to support my community by just being a friend. Sometimes all you need is someone to talk to and someone who can relate to what you are going through. Whether that is providing child care for a friend who needs some “me time” because their spouse is deployed or by picking up groceries, I try to provide support when I can. I also try to support my community by being a sharer of resources. As an instructional systems designer, I do a lot of reading and research. I tend to find a lot of programs that are available to military spouses that many of my peers do not know about. I try to share many of these resources via social media or when just chatting. I have been very fortunate to be able to work remotely for a company that values my skill set and is very supportive of military families. I want my friends to be able to find the same opportunities.
What do you advocate for? Why?
The platform I want to advocate for is more education and remote work opportunities for military spouses. A few of my friends have spouses that are nearing retirement. Some have expressed that they have are nervous about the future because they have not been able to establish a career or get an education while they have been supporting their spouse. I know there are many educational programs and remote jobs out there but many are not legitimate opportunities. I have found not all of the programs that accept the MYCAA grant are accredited. I want to be able to help provide educational and remote work opportunities that military spouses can take with them from duty station to duty station. I want every military spouse to feel that they can have a career while they are supporting their spouse's military career.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I currently share resources for remote opportunities via social media, face to face or email. Whenever I am given the opportunity, I try to share what I have found through my research. I am so passionate about this that two years ago, I tried to set up a webinar to share resources with a group of spouses. I would like to run this webinar this year.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
As the AFI Military Spouse of the Year, I will to work to find or help create more legitimate educational and remote work opportunities for military spouses. I would love to be able to talk to different companies to advocate for having remote work opportunities specifically for military spouses. Even in 2020, there are companies that do not offer remote opportunities to their employees. I would like to educate them on the benefits of having remote work opportunities for their employees. As these talks are happening, I would like to create a repository that would list all of these opportunities in one place. Finally, I would like assist in the communication plan to get these resources out to each military installation.