Nominations are closed. Come back February 3 to meet the candidates!

Alacia Camechis

Branch: Navy

Duty Station: Bethesda Naval Medical Center

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 6

Share your military spouse story:
November 5th, 2007, Was the day that I stepped off the bus after graduating BootCamp and onto Naval Hospital Corpsman "A" School grounds. It's also the day my husband swears he fell in love with him. "I saw you walk off the bus and get into formation, and I knew you were it." Unfortunately for him, it would take another 3 weeks before I realized he even existed. However, once we were both assigned to the same class, everything just fell into place. We started dating and everyone told us our relationship wouldn't make it, it was just a "corps school romance" and it would fade away once we left and got into the fleet. We both were sent to different duty stations, and even though it was hard, we were extremely young, 18 and 20 years old. We pushed through it and after two years got married and stationed together. Then, 6 months to the day of being married and moving in with each other for the first time, we found out I was pregnant. The pregnancy was extremely hard on me, and both our son and I almost died while I was in labor. Recover was even harder because Zac was sent to Afghanistan only three months after our son was born. That deployment tested us, we barely had communication for the entire deployment, I was a young first-time mother, and still had to live my life being on active duty. As hard as the deployment was, integration back home was even hard, our son didn't know who daddy was, my husband hadn't learned how to be a dad, and felt like everything was on my shoulders. Where so many told us we needed to give up and move on, we didn't, we pressed forward, got help, and figured out how to be a family again. After my second tour was coming to an end, and we added two more little boys into our life we decided it would be best for me to get out and become a stay-at-home mother. We had just learned our oldest had autism and needed a lot of therapy to help him. My husband went on to become a Submarine IDC, and I now use my time to help fellow military families.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Due to being prior military, and taking on leadership roles in the past, being able to lead is nothing new to me. When I was active duty Navy I had multiple different positions where I lead junior sailors on a daily basis. I feel like having this experience better prepared me when I took on becoming a volunteer as a housing advocate. I am able to properly communicate with multiple different people, in all positions in a respectable manner. Being able to take charge, and effectively communicate has opened up multiple different avenues for change to properly start taking effect. Helping to work hand in hand to develop proper procedures has helped to narrow the window of error and keep families in homes that are safe to live in.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
After having the advocate group that I am now currently volunteering for myself, help our family when we felt like we were getting nowhere with housing fixing our issues. I immediately asked what I could do to help. I saw how our group was changing and supporting so many military families in our community and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. Once joining I went through and learned how to better identify and deal with housing issues, I started answering more and more messages and calls that were coming in. I went out to families' homes, meet with them, explained what exactly we could do to help, and developed so many wonderful relationships with the families. It has now been a year and a half of actively helping families and it's amazing to see how much has been accomplished and the changes we have helped to implement for better living standards.

Describe how you support your community:
As a housing advocate, my job is to be available to any and all military families that are seeking help with their homes. I show my support to our community by not only helping families with identifying issues but also by making a plan of action to combat their housing issues. However, I am also a person to lean on in hard times. Dealing with issues within a home is extremely stressful. Add onto that stress if families have to be removed from their current home to allow remediation processes to happen can add even more stress onto families. Then add children into the mix, family pets, or if a family member is disabled and it can really negatively affect their mental health. I'm here to support families in their time of need in any way I possibly can.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for safe and reliable military housing, at all bases and across all branches. My reason for advocating for safe housing is simple if we expect our military members to separate from their loved ones, the last thing they should be worried about is if their families will be safe in the home they are living in. I personally have lived on-base housing at multiple different duty stations, with multiple different third-party companies that oversaw base housing. I have dealt with black mold at two separate duty stations, where it wasn't until we threatened legal action and news media coverage that problems were fixed. I have lived in multiple homes where there are major electrical issues, one that caused a fire to start, and have lost out on thousands of dollars due to housing not acting properly. If I can keep just one family from going through what our family has, then I know in my heart I've done something right.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Social Media is the most powerful tool in today's world. Using multiple platforms I help to spread awareness of the current housing situation, where our group stands on how we can help families, and how best to contact us if military families feel they are in need of help. In the last year alone, our platform has been able to reach hundreds of thousands of families, allowing them to contact us to set up times to speak either in person, or via zoom, facetime, and even Facebook Messenger. Social media has also been able to help in the form of collecting data, to see just how many military families are struggling with housing-related issues that are going unresolved. Using Social Media has made such a positive impact on our communities ability to reach out and get help in emergencies situations without having to wait.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
It is my hope that with this title I would be able to help raise more awareness for all military families and the conditions so many are subjected to live in when it comes to on-base housing. When talking to congress or representatives they will hopefully see this title as someone who is to be taken seriously and won't back down when it comes to our service members and the family members they leave behind. Whether the rank of that service member is an E-1 or an O-10 every military member who resides in base housing is entitled to even the basics of human rights. That the Basic Housing Allowance that is allotted is to be used not only to pay these third party companies that oversee the homes but that they are being fixed or repaired in a timely manner, using the best resources and most up to date technology. Giving our service members one less thing to worry about while they are deployed away from their families.

Nominations

We met Alacia when she moved to Fort Belvoir. As a prior service member, a fellow spouse, a homeschool mama, a realtor, and a resident advocate, she selflessly has and continues to contribute to her community every day. PCS'ing can be one of the most challenging and difficult times to navigate for military families. She goes above and beyond to help provide resources to families with finding a safe home, on and off post. She has brough awareness through her advocacy for safe military housing by giving service members and families a voice. In a moment's notice, she has gone to help families in their home who are in need of support with navigating how to deal with unsafe housing conditions on post. She inspires all of us! - Team BHAG
- by Raven Roman