Reanica Mahouski

Branch: Marine Corps

Duty Station: Marine Corps Air Station New River

Number of Deployments:

Number of PCS's: 2

Share your military spouse story:
I'm a Marine Corps spouse, and mom of a sassy three years old and currently waiting for the arrival of our second. I'm still learning how to pack efficiently and move at a whim's notice. I'm still learning how to make the best of every duty station and also learning how to parent a military brat. I definitely learned how to be flexible, resourceful, and independent. I grew up around the military by living next to the Fort Hamilton army base. Most of my friends were military brats. I witnessed their parents coming and going from a third party's perspective and I was the "townie" with friends coming and going due to military moves. For the most part, the spouses and the kids of the service members made it look easy; I never thought that I'd ever be in their shoes, along with witnessing the hardship of military brats first hand as a parent. In the last two yeasr, I've learned that it definitely is not easy for anyone in the family. I met my husband 2 months before he separated from the Marine Corps in Tokyo, Japan while I was on my way home to NYC from vacation. We then both found ourselves in NYC two months later, where we both attended school, fell in love and became a family of three. Our military journey started when I found out about him submitting his packet for OCS, after only just finding out his desire to go back into the service. A year and half later, my daughter and I dropped him off in Quantico, VA. I didn't know what to expect nor was I given any information about whats to come next. This became the start of trying to navigate the military life with blindfolds over my eyes. In the last two years, we have been to two "permanent" duty stations, and also executed two very temporary moves and short separations for training. In addition to our moves, we are currently waiting for our new addition to our family. After our first initial separation, we decided that we would go with him whenever it is possible, because at some point we won't be able to.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
In the last two years, I have tried to pay it forward by helping out other spouses who are trying to navigate this lifestyle with a blindfold. A group of women and I have created two social media groups that helps guide spouses and other family members on their USMC OCS journey. We have helped five cycles of OCS candidate families and each cycle have over 100 family members from spouses, parents, friends and more. We provide them with information and support. We created documents from compiled information on the USMC officer pipeline based on personal experiences, and also official information about Tricare, DEERS, as well as power of attorneys. We have also created a long list of recommended hotels (for graduation or liberty), off base housing, realtors, and photographers that would help, not only spouses, but also other family members through their OCS journey. I have also helped several families on navigating their move to Quantico for The Basic School and beyond TBS.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
Although I'm still a newbie, I try my best to pass on the things I have learned in the last two years from more seasoned spouses. It also helps that most of my learned information is current. I also try my best to stay informed by using provided resources such as military one source, LINKS, health resources on base and also attending base sponsored events and spouse socials and just trying to be active within my spouses's unit, when possible.

Describe how you support your community:
Since becoming a military family, we as a family try to be inclusive when meeting "strangers" at each duty station. Most of those "strangers" have turned into friends and then into family. I love hosting stuff at our house and just making everyone feel comfortable and like family since most of us are away from family. I try my best to extend my hand to help other spouses when they need help and may not want to ask, or just be supportive. I let them know that they are not alone by asking them to come out and join me or my family and I for a drink, a meal, or whatever they are comfortable with. Although I am new to this, I use the resources around me when I don't have an answer for something to help other spouses.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I believe in the idea of paying it forward within our military community, and helping families connect through social media. When you're a newbie, it is hard to figure out where or how to get the correct information. It super important for spouses and family to be aware that they have resources and there are people out there willing to help. Knowledge is power. This lifestyle is pretty isolating. It's hard moving so often, and always finding yourself as the outsider of a group. I think that it helps when you connect with someone prior to getting to that duty station and just knowing you atleast know one person there.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Social media is a great way to spread my platform. I am currently a stay at home mom and its not always easy for me to attend events and be present at all the events within our community. I use social media to spread the wealth (of knowledge) I have gained from other spouses and to also stay connected with key people in the community. I try to be involved/help other spouses, and also create relationship with other individuals that can help our community. I created social media groups that help other spouses and also other family members. The social media groups provides and explains OPSEC approved information. I find that it is a great way to communicate effectively to a large group of people or/and help people connect, especially when many of the spouses and family members are long distance or just not at the same base but going through the similar situations.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?