Branch: Marine Corps
Duty Station: Marine Corps Base Hawaii
Number of Deployments: 4
Number of PCS's: 3
Share your military spouse story:
MySpace, the long-lost social media site (am I dating myself here?), was where my husband and I first connected during college. The military wasn’t even a blip on the radar until one night, my now-husband had a dream about joining the Marine Corps, and I mean that literally. At my encouragement, he spoke with a recruiter and our lives set onto a path neither of us expected. We had been dating for four and a half years and decided to marry a mere three months before he left for boot camp. I still have vivid memories of seeing him graduate at Parris Island, finish his Marine Combat Training, and finally, his graduation where he became an Air Crew Chief on the MV-22 Osprey. In 2011, we received our first set of orders to MCAS Miramar in San Diego. He was new to being a Marine, and I was a freshly-minted (clueless) military spouse thrown into the world of learning a new language of acronyms, ranks and titles, trying to understand how to answer the question “So, what does your husband do in the military?”, and adjust to our new lives together as husband and wife. Two back to back OCONUS moves, four deployments and one amazing little three year old boy later, I can say we have adjusted. It wasn't until our PCS to Okinawa in 2016 that I really began to find value in our military spouse community and where I first began volunteering, taking advantage of educational opportunities on base, and really getting to know my fellow spouses. In 2019, we headed to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, where my husband is currently stationed with VMM-268. This move was hard for me. Like many military spouses, I gave up so much that I was invested in and I struggled to replace that for awhile. My resiliency kicked into high gear and, similar to Okinawa, I jumped right in to attending spouse events to get to know everyone. Since then, I have found several rewarding volunteer opportunities to be part of and strive to connect, mentor and encourage other spouses to step up and make a difference.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Coming into current deployment preparations with VMM-268, I was one of the seasoned spouses who had experience with the various highs and lows that can occur during a deployment. I had found a purpose in assisting spouses in the past in learning about base programs offered to them, and I understood the fear behind the unknown of what could happen. Using my experiences, I worked with our VMM-268 Commanding Officer to author a Family Readiness and Resiliency Workshop Series. Keeping my experiences in mind, I carefully selected a class to be held each month to assist spouses as they geared up for their Marine or Sailor to deploy. I wanted to ensure the best possible chance for our spouses to go into deployment and have a sense of community and support. It was because of this, and various other efforts I have contributed towards the squadron within the past year, that I was recently recognized as the Marine Corps branch winner for the Navy League’s 2021 Outstanding Military Spouse.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
My involvement in the military community started in Okinawa in early 2017 by joining our squadron’s Command Team. There, I aided in assisting the command in promoting and encouraging families to become successful in having a healthy adjustment to the military lifestyle, learning to thrive during deployment and succeeding in their tour in Okinawa. During my time with the Okinawa Leadership Seminar, I volunteered on the crew for the planning and execution of three seminars, having served as a small group facilitator and Facilitator Team Lead. In early 2020, I joined the USMC PCS Advocacy Council, which has been an incredible opportunity for me to help Marines and their families have a better PCS experience. I currently serve as the CONUS Lead for the USMC PCS Advocacy Council, volunteer on the VMM-268 Command Team, serve as our unit’s Meal Train coordinator and am the Assistant Coach for our squadron spouse’s kickball team through SHAKA (Spouses’ Hawaii Area Kickball Association).
Describe how you support your community:
Educating our military spouses about all of the amazing resources and opportunities that are available to them will not only help ease the stressful military lifestyle for years to come, but also give them space to embrace the excitement and opportunities that only come from being a part of this unique community. One of the key ways I have done this is within the USMC PCS Advocacy Council. Not only do we facilitate information flow from Headquarters Marine Corps to Marine Corps families, but we also provide insight as the eyes and ears to allow Headquarters Marine Corps the ability to see, understand and address the unique trends and issues that emerge across the country. We work behind the scenes to help our Marines and spouses better understand updated rules and regulations, policy and entitlements surrounding their PCS. As advocates, it is not about solving problems for our Marines and spouses, but more so in giving them the tools they need to be successful on their own.
What do you advocate for? Why?
One is never done learning, especially in the dynamic lifestyle of being a military spouse. By this principle, I am a passionate advocate for educating both new and seasoned spouses through resources and opportunities available to empower them to lead amongst their communities. I have loved growing as a leader through my role as a Command Team Advisor. In training for this volunteer position, I was exposed to some exceptional classes provided by Marine Corps Family Team Building that, even through my previous experiences, I never knew existed. These programs have made me a better and more understanding military spouse because of their dedication to supporting spouses. Absorbing all this information created a drive in me that expanded towards other opportunities to help better myself as a leader. It gave me the skills to help empower other spouses with the tools they need to do so, too, and I will continue to strive to make a difference in the volunteer work that I do.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Spreading the message of my advocacy is rooted in authentically connecting to the community I serve and creating a safe environment for discussion about things they may not know. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and in our technology-driven environment, social media has been the biggest way to ensure these resources reach as many spouses as possible. Our PCS Facebook groups, USMC PCS Support and USMC PCS Support Pacific Region are very active with questions and that is where I, as a Lead and an Advocate, educate and communicate with Marines and their spouses regarding their PCS questions. At the local level, I promote opportunities for involvement and spouse education on our squadron spouse’s Facebook page and pride myself on being a bit of an extrovert to network and openly communicate with anyone regarding resources or opportunities they are seeking.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
If I were to be selected for the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year title, my goal would be to continue to strengthen our military community through the education of resources and opportunities to empower our spouses with the knowledge and the skills they need to lead. When I am able to see someone go from an unsure and lost military spouse to someone who embraces this community with confidence, it is like everything has come full circle. If I didn’t share the numerous resources and opportunities I’ve been given, I feel as though I’d be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t continue in something I am so passionate about that helped me become who I am today. In educating our spouses on the aspects of military life and providing them opportunities to become great leaders, our community of military spouses will only strengthen and create a better military community as a whole.
Amanda has been volunteering with the USMC PCS Support Page for the Pacific Region Facebook group.
The USMC PCS Support page for the Pacific Region, focuses on Japan (Iwakuni and Okinawa) + Hawaii! Our USMC PCS Family Advocacy Council was formed in Jan 2019. This council is a group of USMC spouses volunteering around the globe to help Marines and families have a better Permanent Change of Station (PCS) experience. This group is for Active Duty Marines and/or spouses of Active Duty Marines.
They facilitate information flow between Headquarters Marine Corps and Marine Corps families pertaining to the movement of families and pets during a PCS.
She is also very active in her community being a part of the Spouses Hawaii Area Kickball Association (SHAKA). I have followed her kickball journey and seen the camaraderie the team has and how much fun they have. Mahalo Amanda for being a great example to so many. Please consider voting for Amanda!
- by Arlene Allen