Meet the 2020 AFI MSOY Top 18!

sarah king

Branch:
Navy

Duty Station:
Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek

Number of Deployments:
8

Number of PCS's:
6

Share your military spouse story:
Hello! My name is Sarah King and I am originally from Indiana! My husband and I went to high school together and remained friends during the first part of his military career. Our long distance relationship extended from California to Indiana and then Mississippi to Indiana while he was continuing with his military career and I was finishing college. We have been together for almost 15 years and have been married for a little over 10 years! We have PCS'ed from Mississippi, to Virginia, to California, to Indiana, to Illinois, and now we are back in Virginia again! We bought a house the first time we were in Virginia with the impression we would stay on one coast and the Navy was adamant to prove us wrong! Because of this we have happily lived on the all coasts and have experienced and continue to experience so many cultural and historical aspects throughout different societies! I used to work in a hospital setting as a respiratory therapist-neonatal pediatric specialist, but now I am very fortunate to have the rewarding career of stay at home mom. We have two sons and are happy to be back in the Hampton Roads area with them, as there are so many family orientated activities in this area, such a close-knit military community, and access to so many great schools, doctors, and surroundings! Being affiliated, through my husband, with the military community, volunteering, and supporting military members has always been a way of life and so important to me which, in turn, makes me want to continue to do even more for the military community and keep reaching higher!

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I am passionate about helping the military community in any way I can . I recently joined the Navy League of the United States. I helped pass out teddy bears from Operation Gratitude to children of parents returning from deployment. I am a co-ambassador of Giving Tuesday Military Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. I helped collect dresses for Operation Deploy Your Dress. I just recently talked to a local school about "Giving Tuesday" in the military community and helped coordinate and write letters to deployed sailors. My co-ambassador of "giving Tuesday military" and I also coordinated and collected winter gear throughout the military base on little creek to give to the homeless. I volunteered to help hand out pumpkin pies before Thanksgiving from the USO. Being in the military we are frequently required to travel, during these stays in hotels I collect toiletries we are given and ship them to Operation: Care and Comfort for deployed service members.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Being a seasoned military wife has afforded me the opportunity to help provide guidance, mentor, and find resources for other military wives which can make all the difference in the world to have a strong support system from other military families that have been through or are going through the same circumstances as you. The best way to bridge the gap between military spouses and service men and women is by getting to know the other’s story and be there for one another. Military spouses are strong, determined and are willing to bend over backwards to make military life work while taking care of their family which is often times an over shadowed and thankless job, but being there to support each other makes life less lonely, knowing you are not in this alone.

Describe how you support your community:
I believe it is just as important serving our community as a whole as it is with serving the military community. I serve as Chairman of the Orange County Chapter of Relay for Life in Indiana. I have set up collections and drives to help the less fortunate. During our "givingtuesdaymilitary" initiative we passed out over 10 dozen flowers to exemplify acts of kindness, hoping to create a domino effect of kind acts. I am an apraxia advocate and team captain of the Hampton Roads walk for apraxia through the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America. I am a dyslexia advocate and recently finished courses at the University of San Diego to become a certified dyslexia specialist and help children in our area overcome reading challenges. I also recently enrolled in volunteer training courses to help support parents with the IEP processes in schools through INSOURCE. I am part of the parent teacher association at my children's local school and volunteer any chance I get.

What platform do you advocate for? Why?
I believe that giving back starts with our children. As long as they are provided with a good foundation and are lead by example with a giving and serving heart they will make the future a better place for themselves and the people around them. My platform is supporting our military children through the different adjustments they face. With a good foundation, a strong sense of self, and a good focus they can endure anything the military throws in their direction. Military children change schools, go through deployments, and show strength and courage through their sacrifices. Their resilience and coping skills are the keys to their success and I think great focus should be applied to these areas of their emotional, physical, and mental well-being.

How have you spread the message of your platform?
Our neighborhood school, my children's school, has one of the highest enrollment of military children in the Virginia Beach City public school area. I visit during their lunch hours to talk to the kids and listen to their stories. I volunteer my time in the classroom when needed for reading or anything to support the teachers, which in turn supports our children. Social media has ever changed the way we relay information and I find it of high importance to share messages that range from school legislation and policy changes, school needs/events, and advocacy for children with special needs primarily on my Facebook page. I help the school with PTA sponsored events which greatly supports the morale of the children. I enjoy being a face they see and recognize, they are comfortable talking to me, and I am there for them when needed.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I can only hope to try to follow in the footsteps of this years Navy winner Michelle Norman. I have to much respect for her. Being a special needs parent myself I agree with her stance that free and appropriate public education should be afforded to all children across the board. I feel like military children specifically can be overlooked and "passed" from school to school with a higher rate of falling through the cracks. For children, their sense of self and self esteem starts at home, but also crosses over into the school setting. Children spend most of their days in school and it is important that they are provided with a warm, loving, kind, and supportive environment; especially with the unique circumstances military children have. Mrs. Norman has paved the way to help children and I'd love to help change legislation in congress for the better for our children and future generation as she has done.

Nominations

Sarah is an amazing friend, loving mother, and devoted wife. From the moment we met I could feel the kindness and dedication radiate from her. She dedicates so much of her life to helping others and making a difference, she goes out of her way to learn the ins and outs of Dyslexia and Apraxia to help children with special needs. At a drop of a hat she is always ready and willing to serve, she jumped at the opportunity to assist in the #givingtuesdaymilitary initiative and became an ambassador for JEB Little Creek Fort Story, she also volunteers at our command whenever possible to show her support for our sailors and families. I want to nominate Sarah because she deserves to be recognized for all that she does.
- by ashley calderon