Duty Station: Fort Bragg
Number of Deployments: 5
Number of PCS's: 5
Share your military spouse story:
My journey as a military spouse began 13 years ago; when we were stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany. There I immersed myself in the military lifestyle, learned Army acronyms, got involved in the FRG, and volunteered at my sons’ school. I was coming into my own; understanding my role as military spouse. In 2010 my family PCS’d to Fort Bragg, NC where my husband was assigned to 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). I immediately jumped into volunteering with the FRG. The big unit event was the Jingle Bell Jog; this event supported the unit families with special emphasis on families whose loved ones had paid the ultimate sacrifice. In addition to volunteering with the HHC FRG, I volunteered at my son’s school. In 2011 my family PCS’d to Eglin Air Force Base, FL, while still with 7th Group. While there, I quickly learned that the military is a cohesive family regardless of service branch. I was a school volunteer, assisted with our FRG. In 2013 we PCS’d to Fort Carson, CO; I decided to run for Mayor of our village on post and won the election. Village Mayors had monthly meetings with the Garrison Commander to discuss ideas for community improvement. I also participated in a coat drive which collected 500 coats, and managed the unit angel tree drive. We have been at Fort Bragg for three and a half years, I have been extremely active in our unit’s FRG and FFG (Family First Group). This year, I was honored to be selected for our unit's volunteer of the quarter and awarded the installation’s silver and bronze star awards. I was also chosen as Fort Bragg’s Spouselink Ambassador--tasked with informing and inspiring local military spouses; additionally, I volunteer as the head coach for a local middle school pep squad. Our family was recognized as Fort Bragg's 2019 Family of the Year. I have always strived to instill a love for community in my children and do my best to convey what a difference just one person can make.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I currently am the head of a spouses special interest group at Fort Bragg, NC. We utilize this group to encourage networking between spouses within the command. I organized a toy drive with Operation Home Front where we gathered toys from a 50 mile radius from Fort Bragg, totaling over 2000 toys for the kids in our command. I volunteer my time as a lead for holiday events within our command. I sit on a board that educates incoming families about what life is like within our command and the resources that are available to them if needed.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have received three quarterly Iron Mike lapel pins, being lapel pin, bronze and silver. I volunteer as the head cheer coach for over 40 girls at John Griffin Middle School. I have been volunteering with the Command and my service member’s unit since August 2017. I attend every planning meeting and volunteer my time to create exciting events for our over 700 attendees. I also host a monthly special interest group that bolsters camaraderie for spouses. My family and I planned and executed a “back to school” drive for our unit. I helped organize fundraising for our “golf scramble” that raised over $2000 for the unit's FRG account. In July, I began working with American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association. AAFMAA. This is a “SpouseLink” program that helps other spouse’s network within the military community. I am an ambassador for Ft. Bragg and the links social media’s site. I represented Fort Bragg Chapter for Giving Tuesday Military under the Non-Profit.
Describe how you support your community:
I volunteer at community events, I volunteer with my husbands unit's SFRG, helping out wherever I can. I am currently the Head Coach of the John Griffin Middle School Pep Squad, the school has a large population of military children attending.
What do you advocate for? Why?
Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. Volunteerism can enable you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and recent studies have shown how volunteering can help your mental health. I have been up reading on the benefits. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. The more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness. For the military spouse that is overwhelmed with taking care of the children and home front getting out to make a difference in someone else's life by volunteering also will benefit her mental health as well. It definitely does mine.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I spread my message by talking to all of the incoming spouses in my husbands unit on ways to get out in the community, I let the middle school children a teachers where I coach know , I also spread the word of the health benefits of volunteering on my social media page Spouselink Fort Bragg.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I want to be a catalyst for change in my local community. Giving comes in many forms and it all starts with one small step. Community service is important because volunteering teaches people of all ages and backgrounds compassion and understanding. I like that community service gives you opportunities to improve and leave your mark on your global and local community. Volunteering is something that has no time limit; you can volunteer as much or as little as you’d like and still feel some type of fulfillment from it. You can really be the change you want to see in your community. As I move through life I think I will always be involved in community service because I know it is important and I enjoy and look forward to it. I love giving back through community service because it is extremely rewarding.