Duty Station: USAG Italy
Number of Deployments: 10
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
I have been a military spouse for just shy of 15 years. We have seen and done and experienced some of the highest of the highs in this life and some of the lowest of the lows and I wouldn't change it for the world. I wasn't born into a military life but I found my husband and couldn't live without him so away I went...jumping two feet in to a new life and new world of adventure and discovery. Discovery about myself, and discovery about the world. Throughout these years I have met some of the most fascinating and greatest people our country has to offer. I have been eye-opened to the lengths and depths of what true sacrifice and love for one another means. My husband and I have moved our two children across the world to Italy where we are instilling in them a love of adventure and teaching them about awareness, open-mindedness, tolerance, compassion and the ultimate gift that keeps on giving- having the tool to roll with the punches and adapt to change. I don't have a military spouse story that is incredibly unique or special or different from so many other spouses I know and look up to- but I do have is a love for this country and the United States Army. I embrace all the good and bad and view it all as the greatest journey I can be on with my family.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
One way I view myself as a leader within the military community is not necessarily by a title I hold or a position I have taken on but the ways in which I conduct myself. I have been married to my husband for almost 15 years and as a young spouse who was unaware of what it meant to be married to a service member, I watched and emulated how to behave from spouses I looked up to and respected. I now feel that I hold that role for other young spouses. By the way I carry myself, how I act and react to situations and just what it means to be a strong military spouse means a lot to young spouses looking to also figure out how to navigate this life.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have had every position available within the military spouse side. From a young new wife key caller who just wanted to be involved, to the SFRG Treasurer and then the SFRG Leader in three different Units. As well as being involved in my SFRG, I also write pieces for Army Wife Network. This is a social media platform that is distributed to roughly 8,000 spouses around the world. I write about what I know, experience and see happening in the Army wife life.
Describe how you support your community:
There are many ways I support my military community. I take on a position with the SFRG, currently as SFRG Leader but also write for Army Wife Network. I also have taken on a substitute teaching position at the local Department of Defense school in Italy. While this may not sound like much, I view this position as vitally important. Some of these children truly struggle with life overseas as well as the challenges of life in the Army. Because of my own children, I feel that I can offer some of these students a sense of compassion and understanding to navigate difficulties they are presented with that most children in the civilian population wouldn't understand.
What do you advocate for? Why?
It sounds so basic and it doesn't have many frills in this life of needing to do more and be more but my platform is absolutely the basics of family- the SFRG. Because of the experiences I have had with deployments and challenging training rotations, I firmly believe that if we aren't investing into our family readiness groups, it affects the Army mission. When the families are taken care of and feel that they are part of a community, then it eases some of the tension the soldier feels to fulfill that responsibility so they can focus on the mission. Every spouse should feel accepted and welcomed into their Unit's SFRG. Every SFRG should actively and intentionally engage every spouse to offer them the opportunity to become involved.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
The best, and only way, I can spread this is by my actions. I engage as many spouses as I can. This is for a couple reasons. One is so that they know they are welcome and wanted within the Unit family. Two is because there are so many negative emotions about the SFRG and spouses not wanted to be affiliated with these organizations so I attempt to dispel that myth. I talk about my SFRG with other spouses not in the Unit and share how passionate I am about creating a family-like environment within their Unit communities.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I would hope to continue to spread a message of the vital importance of SFRG's. SFRG's don't (and shouldn't) exist the way they did when I was a younger spouse so helping Unit's figure out what an SFRG should look like in today's Army and within the very specific culture of the Unit they are a part of. Helping to construct what a new SFRG should look like but getting back to strong family readiness groups and encouraging spouses and soldiers to buy-in to the importance of strength of family-like units to promote the strength of the Unit mission and readiness.