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

Brandy Pearson

Branch: Army

Duty Station: USAREC

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 8

Share your military spouse story:
I am, by no means, an expert at this military life but over the years I have met some amazing military spouse mentors who have helped me become the person I am today. They showed me what it meant to be a military spouse and how big of an impact we can have on our communities. I enjoy following in their footsteps of sharing experiences and knowledge with other spouses while engaging in meaningful friendships throughout our communities. I met my husband during high school, we worked together at a local grocery store in our hometown. He left for basic training the summer after senior year, and we continued to stay in touch. When he came home for holiday block leave and we must have hit it off, because here we are 18 years later, still happily navigating life together with our two daughters. During my spouse’s military career, I found my passion for volunteering with various programs at all the different duty stations we visited. Giving me reason to finally pursue degrees in Healthcare Administration and Sociology. I fell in love with Army Community Service and all of the family programs they offer. I quickly stepped up for Army Family Team Building classes and became an instructor. Being part of something that was meant to get spouses involved while making connections with other spouses, was something I wished I had found early on in this military life. Over the years, I eventually accepted the role of Volunteer Program Manager for AFTB and the Volunteer Corps Program at Fort Riley and with the US Army Recruiting Command. I take pride in being able to volunteer within Army family programs and strive to help other military families who are geographically separated from a military installation due to the Service Member’s assignment by using virtual platforms to connect spouses with resources and support systems.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
As a military spouse, I have taken on various roles from SFRG positions, AFTB Volunteer Program Manager, Volunteer Corps Program Manager, and mentor to other spouses. My favorite and most rewarding role has been that with AFTB and other family programs. During COVID, I spearheaded a virtual campaign of AFTB classes for the US Army Recruiting Command families. USAREC families are often located to far from installations where these type of classes are generally held, but could benefit tremendously from family program classes. The campaign started with great response, and we are now beginning to offer other family program classes to our geographically dispersed families, classes that haven’t been offered outside of an installation ACS before. We also offered AFTB classes to our Future Soldier families as well, the families with soldiers in basic training and AIT, to help them get started on this new journey and be prepared when they arrive at their first duty station.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have been actively involved with the military community for about 14 years now. I began volunteering with my spouse's unit; assisting with fundraisers and events. I then began taking on more responsibilities; SFRG Leader and Funds Custodian. When I found Army Community Service and family programs, I really started getting involved on a bigger scale. AFTB has been at the heart of my involvement for a long time. As an AFTB instructor, I was able to connect with other spouses and share my military spouse experiences with them while helping them in their own personal and leadership development as well. I moved into the Volunteer AFTB Program Manager position and was able to mentor other instructors in their professional and facilitator abilities. Being in this role for a couple different installations/Command groups has helped me expand not only my own professional and leadership abilities, but has also helped me broaden AFTB's reach to more geographically dispersed spouses.

Describe how you support your community:
When my spouse was assigned to recruiting duty, I quickly realized that not all military spouses have a military community that they could relate to. Recruiters and their families are often assigned to locations away from an installation, and more often than not, there will only be a couple spouses within the station, leaving them to feel isolated during their recruiting assignment. Having just left a very active installation, I wanted to bring as many of our geographically dispersed spouses together on a virtual platform. While still providing the same resources that are accessible on installation. My virtual platform began by offering a few AFTB classes using Facebook groups, then Google hangouts, YouTube videos, Zoom meetings, and now GoToMeetings in an online classroom format. By utilizing these platforms, we were able to reach spouses not only in the US, but spouses who were OCONUS by assisting with virtual instruction until they were able to build their own instructor base.

What do you advocate for? Why?
Its been proven that when families of servicemembers are given the proper supports, the servicemember can focus on the mission at hand. Recruiting families are no different. This population of military families have been put on the back burner when it comes to being able to participate in all the same benefits an installation has to offer. These families are stationed across the US, in local communities away from installations, and act as a front man for the military in those communities, but have limited support of their own on navigating being away from an installation. They deserve better resources and support to help prepare and sustain them during their time away from military installations instead of leaving them to fend for themselves. I want to change that. I want these families to feel heard and seen. I want these families to be given the same opportunities and supports that are offered on installations.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
In 2014, I partnered with a journalist from Military.com for an article outlining the virtual ATFB classes we were offering at that time and why I thought geographically dispersed families could benefit from family programs like AFTB being offered virtually. Offering virtual family program classes was only the tip of the iceberg for these families. Since then we have only expanded on our platform by using social media and gained the support of US Army Recruiting Command, Soldier and Family Assistance Branch(SFAB). With the help of the SFAB, my group of all volunteer ACS instructors have been able to expand the classes we offer to more than just AFTB. We now offer almost the same curriculum and opportunities as an on installation ACS can offer, including Master Resiliency Training, Command Team Spouse Seminar, Recruiting Spouse Seminar, and others. Other programs at SFAB have followed us by offering their own virtual events too; Family Advocacy, EFMP and the Volunteer Corps Program.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
If given the title of Military Spouse of the Year, I hope to bring awareness to the struggles that families in Recruiting face. Even though recruiting families are a small percentage of the military community, they need a voice. Recruiters are responsible for enlisting tomorrow's military, and with that comes added stressors on the family and servicemember. There are a number of programs and resources in place for active duty families, however the majority of them are in favor of families that are on installation. I want to adapt those programs and resources to fit into the lifestyle of military families away from the installation. By connecting these families with more resources that understand their struggles and have a plan in place to assist them, we can elevate some of those stressors in our Recruiting families.

Nominations

I have known Brandy for several years. When we first met, she was a volunteer AFTB coordinator and FRG leader on Ft. Riley. She is one of the most dedicated volunteers I have worked with and has given -thousands- of hours of her time to help spouses and families over the years. Currently, she volunteers with USAREC and has been integral in the creation of their AFTB program- coordinating classes for professionals, spouses, and soldiers throughout the country. Honestly, I don’t know everything she has done, because it is so much to list. She deserves this nomination a million times over!!
- by June Davis

Mrs Brandy Pearson has dedicated her life to volunteer to help other military spouses overcome the challenges of military life. What started out as a simple leadership position with her husband’s FRG many years ago has now grown into building a corps of military spouse volunteers and together they help spouses embrace military life!! Brandy has mentored many spouses over the years as a Family Programs Instructor she has helped new spouses (and Soldiers) ease into military life, assisted countless individuals find the value in volunteerism and ensured they found their passion and provide a helping hand to each person she comes in contact with. She is currently holding a volunteer position with the US Army Recruting command and a Army Family Team Building program manager, assistant Army volunteer corp coordinator and Family Programs instructor.
- by Julie Zwiebel