Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Osan Air Base
Number of Deployments: 2
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
When my husband decided to join the military in 2008, we were already in our mid-20s. We were the "old" newbies. But having been a military child myself set me up for success on what to sort of expect. I was also someone that the younger spouses automatically felt comfortable talking about whatever was going on. Our journey started tough; while my husband was away for basic training, I planned our minimal and quick wedding. We got married the day he graduated BMT. He then went off to tech school, then shortly found out his first base would be Osan AB, ROK for a year non-command. We went the entire twelve months without visiting one another; finances just weren't in the right place for us at that time. Finally, after nearly twenty months of being apart, we moved to our first base as a family with our daughter to Luke AFB, AZ. We spent six years there before he was hit with another remote tour to Osan AB, ROK. Two weeks after he left, I found out I was pregnant with our son. Thankfully he got to come home for the birth and be home for three weeks before going back to Korea. It was hard not having him home, but I knew that three more months and he'd be home. We then went to our next base Holloman AFB, NM, where we spent two years until we decided let's try Korea as a family. We moved to Osan AB, ROK, in 2018 and recently extended until 2024. I love the community here, and we have enjoyed Korea. There have been many younger new spouses who decide to come with their spouse, not expecting how the military life is, let alone living in another country. I've tried to help them cope with all of the changes. The military spouse life is hard, but I'm here to support my husband in his career, take care of our children, and stay active in the military community by helping other spouses.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have been a key spouse for multiple squadrons; I'm currently one. I wanted to assist spouses that come here feeling lost as I did; I wanted them to know that they weren't alone and someone was here to help. I was also an active volunteer for the Red Cross; right as covid started, I was the Resiliency Program manager. I was also the Team Osan Spouses' Club president from 2020 to 2021.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
As president of the spouses club and even going through a pandemic, we could still have the club stay as active as possible. We gave out $8000 in scholarships, $20,000 in community grants and baked over 25,000 cookies for unaccompanied service members across the Korean peninsula for our cookie caper, Operation Sweet Treat. I have been active with the spouses' club since 2018, holding multiple board chairs. Since the pandemic, I have been part of the Quarantine Support Group and have helped over 120 families get groceries and other goods. Although the group is no longer active, I continue to support any families, not just my husband's squadron, that needs help.
Describe how you support your community:
I support my community by being here before I'm needed. I enjoy going to events and socials to meet people who just arrived here to help them transition to living overseas. I like to show people areas around on and off the base to help them get familiarized with the surrounding. I continue to help those in quarantine by picking up groceries and even toys for their kids. I also prepare food for my husband's troops during exercise weeks and desserts throughout the year.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I'm a big advocate for community support and volunteerism. I try to talk to spouses about trying new things, being adventurous, and not being so hard on other spouses. It's hard coming to a new place and a foreign country at that. It's even more complicated when someone comes here with a negative mindset that they need to stay away from military spouses. I like to remind them that we're all in this together, to support and uplift each other. Having that positive person can change the course of how many spouses think.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I attend as many base-wide functions, mostly ones geared to the spouses. While I was president of the spouses' club, I made sure to participate in as many mini clubs and socials and chat with all the new people I saw. I wanted them to feel comfortable and show them that we're a great community. I have also attended the base new-comers tour they offer once a month.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I hope to accomplish giving new and even tenured spouses' a more positive outlook at being a military spouse. We are essential in the military community. Being a spouse is about being supportive, not just to your husband and family but also to the community. You don't have to go over and beyond, but show another spouse not to be scared to step out as a leader to help others.
She is always going out of her way for everyone. She helps people when they need it. She is always offering help. She gives helpful advice to those who need it. She volunteers so much of her time. She helped people in quarantine get groceries. She was in the spouses club and was a board member. She is the most kind and helpful person I know. I've herd so many people including myself say we would be lost if it wasn't for her guidance, friendliness and kind heart.
- by Tiffany Martinez
April does so much for our community here at Osan Ab, South Korea. She gives back and helps others so much.
- by Judine Brockhaus