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

Brandi Collins

Branch: Army

Duty Station: Scott Air Force Base

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 8

Share your military spouse story:
I have been an Army spouse for almost 20 years, which I'm told makes me a "seasoned" spouse. I have 2 amazing teenage sons who I am enjoying watching grow into young men. I met my husband in college, and we have been together for his entire active duty career. The military life hasn't always been easy, but my husband and I have always been firmly "team Collins," and that partnership has helped us to get through anything that life and the military has thrown at us. My husband has been on 4 combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and we have had 8 PCS moves, to include 2 overseas moves. Everywhere we have moved, I have always jumped right in volunteering in various places and joining the local spouses' club. It is through jumping right in that I have been able to meet new people and make new friends, and to grow and thrive, no matter where the army has taken us. Not only this, but I have made lifelong friends who I know will always be there for me, no matter how far the army separates us from one another. In 2021, our younger son got sick and started losing weight at an alarming rate, and after several months of tests and procedures was diagnosed with moderate to severe Crohn's disease. We got through the illness and diagnosis thanks to the love and support of our military family, both near and far. This is why I am so passionate about helping others to form connections and build friendships...I cannot imagine going through the past year without the love and support of my friends, and I know how vitally important it is to have a tribe of people who love and support you. This military life is hard enough as it is...finding your people and having friends helps to make it just a little bit easier.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have held leadership roles at various levels during my husband's career. I am currently serving my second term as the President of the Scott Spouses' Club at Scott AFB, and have held various other leadership roles in Family Readiness Groups, PTA/PTOs, and various spouse clubs. I have a heart to serve the community, and I usually hop in feet first whenever I arrive at a new duty station! I've learned over the years that leadership doesn't always involve being in the spotlight, but oftentimes your best leaders and biggest cheerleaders are those who serve silently and build up others. I always try my best, in any of my leadership roles, to build up those serving alongside me. I try my best to inspire others and to lead from the front; by showing others that doing small, menial tasks are not beneath me, I hope that it inspires them to help more in the roles that aren't necessarily as glamorous, but that help and impact others in meaningful ways.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
Throughout my husband's career, I have volunteered at many levels of military life. I have sat on several spouses' club boards, holding positions from public relations chair to President. I have served at various levels of Family Readiness Groups from key caller to treasurer and FRG leader. I have taught all levels of Army Family Team Building classes, helping new military spouses to learn about the army and the military lingo, culture, acronyms, etc. I have been an active volunteer at all of my children's schools, from being a general volunteer to a room parent to serving on various PTA/PTO boards. I have always stepped up to volunteer with my kids' sports teams as well, and firmly believe in the saying "see a need, fill a need." I always strive to bloom wherever I am planted, and to leave a neighborhood/base/organization/group better than I found it.

Describe how you support your community:
I am passionate about helping other spouses to build connections and friendships, and to give back to my local base and local communities. In our lives as military spouses, we are constantly having to rebuild our "tribe." In my position as the president of the Scott Spouses' Club, I oversee and actively work at the various monthly events where we can meet new people in a large group setting, and participate in several of the miniclubs that are offered, where people can get to know others who have similar interests in a smaller-group setting. In addition to connection building, the club gives back to the community by offering grants to local and national organizations, taking up collections for local helping organizations, raising awareness for Wreaths Across America, and giving scholarships to local military dependents, and I am a very vocal and visible supporter of all of these endeavors. Connection building while giving back is my passion, and I do my best to do so wherever we move.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I am an advocate for community and connection building. When we move to a new location, it is very tough to be the new person. I know how vitally important is is to us as human beings to have connections with others. Providing a way for military spouses to meet others and to forge friendships is a way that I advocate this connection building. Additionally, we are only as strong as our communities. In giving back to to our local communities, we help to strengthen the communities, and to strengthen the bond between our military and civilian communities. By giving back to our local and base community, we help to build those communities in which we live.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I constantly reach out on our local base pages to let people know about upcoming opportunities to come to spouses' club events. I also reach out to people who post about being new to the area and looking to meet others via private message to offer to meet them, and let them know about the upcoming events through the spouses' club. I invite them to join me at the next event as my guest and offer to meet them and have them sit with me. I think that reaching out to others to help offer that bridge to connection is extremely important, and I hope that getting the word out about events and reaching out to people helps them to find their friends and community, and ultimately their tribe, at their new duty station.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
If chosen as the AFI Military Spouse of the Year, I hope to continue to help others forge connections, make friends, and build their tribes. Building relationships is so vitally important to feeling like one "fits in" at a new duty station, and giving spouses a venue, outlet, and way to make friends is a great way to help them find their place at a duty station. I also hope to continue helping give back to the local communities in which I live. Strengthening the bond between the military and local communities is a great way to help build better communities, no matter where you are stationed. I hope to help continue to strengthen the bond between the local civilian communities and the base community. I also hope to help the local civilian communities to better understand the military community and the unique challenges that we and our children face. An ounce of understanding can lead to a pound of compassion, and I hope to help be a catalyst into that understanding in my community

Nominations

Brandi spends many many hours supporting our service members and spouses at Scott AFB. She is the current President of the Scott Spouse Club where she leads the annual cookie drop for all unaccompanied active service members, military spouse appreciation, Scott Spouse Club Scholarships and multiple events. Additionally she speaks within the community to being awareness and educate on the spouse club events. She is a passionate caring person who loves serving service members and their families.
- by Shannon Lawrence

Brandi has served the Scott AFB community through various positions in the Scott Spouse Club. In those positions she has served active duty service members and families with the annual cookie drop, scholarship committee, and military spouse appreciation in addition to many other responsibilities. Additionally, she speaks at local community events to bring awareness to the community of the great things happening at Scott!
- by Shannon Lawrence

I have been serving with Brandi for a few years at the Scott Spouses Club and first hand seen how much of her heart she puts not only into the military families but also anything she is involved in. She is absolutely selfless when it comes to the giving of her time towards the service of our military community. I believe she not only deserves to be recognized but also a plat form like MSOY can help her do even more. Brandi doesn’t do things for rewards and accolades but does it because she truly has a heart for it.
- by Jabneel sanders

As an Army spouse, Brandi supports spouses in one of several joint tenant units at Scott AFB, IL. She is also serving as President of the Scott Spouses’ Club (SSC), and has since 2020. In her role as president, she oversees an organization focused on forming relationships between spouses of all ranks and all branches of service. Through Brandi’s leadership, the SSC is able to raise funds for local and national charities such an Wreaths Across America, as well as awarding almost $20,000 in scholarships for military family members. In 2020-21, the club was not able to meet in person. However, Brandi created Zoom meetings and monthly Zoom socials to keep our spouses connected and safe during this unprecedented time. She works tirelessly for the spouses at SAFB. Brandi is also devoted to her family. She’s provided invaluable stability for her two sons Nick (17) and Chris (14) while her husband, Justin, has been on his multiple deployments. Brandi is a perfect candidate for MSOY.
- by Sharon Minton

Brandi goes above and beyond for the military community. She is currently the President of Scott Spouses' Club and has helped to network , plan, coordinate, and promote events that will assist military families, provide a social outlet, and also assist in the welfare of those in the military and surrounding communty. She is an amazing peraon who goes above and beyond with a smile on her face, no matter what the problem is. Brandi makes sure that if there is a need, then there is a way to assist.
- by Felicia Davis