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Share your military spouse story:
My military spouse story started a little over four years ago when I married the man of my dreams. In true military life fashion, we geobached for our first eight months of marriage while we got my townhome ready to sell that was located an hour and a half away from base. I knew shortly after I moved to Fort Bragg, there would come a day when I would have to walk away from my career that was several counties away from post. I began to struggle with my identity as a military spouse and wondered how I fit into this new world. Who would I be if I walked away from my career? That’s when I began writing about everything and started my blog Strength 4 Spouses. After the miscarriage of our first baby at 8 weeks and the loss of our beloved thirteen year old Beagle 3 months later, I walked away from my nine year career in higher education. I have since struggled to find comparable employment where we are located, but have used the extra time to write, advocate for the military spouse community, volunteer, dive into fitness, and regain a deeper connection with my faith. I have a Master of Arts in Educational Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. Currently, I am a freelance writer, group fitness instructor, and breast pump Ambassador for Baby Pavilion. After trying for a baby for almost 3 years, my husband and I welcomed our precious baby boy into the world in the fall of 2019. He is truly a miracle and the light of our lives!
Describe your involvement in the military community:
It is my passion to give back & help others. I have volunteered with the USO of NC since July of 2014. I started at the RDU center and transferred to the Fort Bragg location. You can usually find me at story time every month chatting with moms, smiling at children, and running around cleaning. I have also been involved with my husband's FRG unit as a key caller for the last 2 years and actively volunteer with annual Ft Bragg events such as; the All American Marathon, Deployed Love Mini's, Operation Homefront's Back to School Brigade, and the Field of Honor for Memorial Day. Most recently, I began volunteer blogging with the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County. For the last year, I have encouraged military spouses to build inner and outer strength, resilience, and healthy pregnancies through fitness as an MWR Group Fitness Instructor in aqua cycling and stroller fitness.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Through my blog, Strength 4 Spouses, I encourage and inspire the local and national military spouse community to get involved in their communities through fitness, faith, volunteerism, and finding purpose. After the rapid deployment of the 82nd Airborne Division in January, I created a call to action giving the public 3 easy ways to support Ft Bragg families; writing a letter of encouragement to military spouses, donating to the USO of NC, or checking on friends and family often and lending them a hand through meals, childcare, and a listening ear.
Describe how you support your community:
I support my community in many ways; through volunteerism efforts with the USO of NC at story time, The Partnership for Children of Cumberland County as a volunteer blogger, one time annual events on post, and with my spouse’s unit FRG. I spend much of my free time giving back to my community and encouraging others to do the same. I am also a part of the Fayetteville NC Blogger group. We help spread the word about local events and small businesses in the Fort Bragg and Fayetteville area. Through my blog, Strength 4 Spouses, I encourage others to get involved in the local community through fitness, faith, volunteerism, and finding purpose. Lastly, as an MWR group fitness instructor, I encourage military spouses to join in group fitness classes to help them through tough times, to find connection, to feel better mentally and physically, to have healthy pregnancies, and build resilience.
What platform do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for the four pillars of strength in military life; fitness, faith, volunteerism, and finding purpose. I believe each of these areas can help military spouses find their inner most strength through the ups and downs of this life. These four pillars of strength can encourage military spouses to dive into their communities, make connections, build a village, and find their purpose in the current season and duty station.
How have you spread the message of your platform?
I have spread this message through my blog Strength 4 Spouses and all of the social media platforms for S4S to include; Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. It is reflected in everything I do and everything that I am. I encourage others to get out of their comfort zone and try to incorporate these four pillars into their lives to build inner strength too. The hashtag I created to empower military spouses on this journey is #morethanamilspouse It resembles that we are so much more than just married to a service member. It is okay to have our own goals and strive to be a better version of ourselves. I believe military spouses can do this by taking care of themselves through physical activity for physical and mental health, through drawing closer in faith, through giving of your time to a cause in your local community that is important to you, and finding your purpose in your current season and duty station.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I would bring more support and awareness to military couples on an infertility journey. My passion is for military couples without children and those who are struggling to conceive, as I have lived this journey. It is very isolating and there is not a lot of support available. This population is often times forgotten and needs support the most. Because my family has lived the story of loss and infertility, we are passionate about helping others on that journey. The military world is saturated with children, which can sometimes alienate military couples who remain childless. Many events are “kid-centric,” and I hope to advocate for more inclusion for families who do not have children. Behind the scenes at Fort Bragg, for the last two years, I have been advocating for a support program and mini-ministry for military couples on an infertility journey. I hope to gain momentum and support for this program and bring it to fruition.
Wendi Iacobello would be a wonderful candidate for MSOY because she is so positive and passionate about reading, and motherhood and all things military through her Instagram and FB accounts and her blog. All encourage love, faith in God and each other, kindness and goodness. She also volunteers at the USO to help inspire others to love books and reading and has shared her amazing journey in growing her family.
She is a wonderful person and military spouse!
- by chandelle walker
Wendi Iacobello is a community leader, strategic influencer, and passionate advocate for military spouses. Through her online presence, on-base positions, and organizational volunteerism, Wendi works hard to connect military spouses with helpful resources, empowering all those around her to be more effective and empathetic within their community. As a fellow military spouse, I have found Wendi’s gracious enthusiasm to be both inspiring and infectious. Throughout her work, Wendi is always willing to raise awareness for pressing military community challenges, like mental health and infertility. She launched the #morethanamilspouse campaign to highlight changemaker military spouses leading the way in their communities and field. Wendi is a multi-talented educator, tech professional, and writer that works tirelessly to support other military spouses and their families in everything that she does.
- by hannah becker