Duty Station: Not Affiliated With a Duty Station
Number of Deployments: 2
Number of PCS's: 0
Share your military spouse story:
In 2012, I started my journey on active duty in the Army. After I arrived at my first duty station, I began to make friends with several of my team members and their spouses. I got engaged to a fellow soldier, and just a few weeks later following a medical emergency, hospital stay and deployment all within a 24 hour time period, we got married by proxy while he was halfway around the world. Life changed quickly from being a single soldier living on base to a military spouse without official housing and no POA on hand to be able to get things done. I didn't have connections to the community for resources like I did back home, so I reached out to a military spouse whose husband also deployed and she graciously allowed me to move in with her until I could get on my feet. Although not a local to the area, she had built a network during her years there that helped me easily navigate several challenges as they arose, including buying my first home. She was a genuine friend and all-around amazing human being. I remember feeling comfort and confident that I had someone there to help point me in the direction of exactly who and what I needed, no random Google search required. Since then, I have made it my personal mission to not only connect fellow spouses to the people or resources they need, but to also let them know they are seen, valued and welcome in this community.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I initially became involved with the Barksdale Spouses' Club in 2019 and I volunteered on the fundraising committee planning a 5k/10k race which raised over $30,000. I was appointed as the Parliamentarian the following year, as well as the annual 5k/10k fundraiser chair. I was elected and am currently serving as the club President for the 2021-2022 year.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
In addition to the Spouses' Club, I also sit on the NWLA Military Support Foundation and Military Relations Committee through the local chamber of commerce, and I have been a Key Spouse for Security Forces for nearly 3 years. Previously, I was the FRG leader while we were stationed at Fort Hood. When we moved to the local area to start college, I co-founded a military support organization to provide an outlet and support system to veterans and any other military affiliated students on the campus. Since graduating, I have served on several base event planning committees to benefit both service members and their families, such as the annual Operation Cookie Drop. Currently, I am on the planning committee for the annual 5k/10k fundraiser raising funds to be awarded in the form of college scholarships, to military spouses and children, as well as military-affiliated teacher grants in the local community.
Describe how you support your community:
After living away from home and experiencing what it was like to not have local connections to anyone, I strive to help bridge connections for military spouses to the local community anytime a need arises. Sometimes this may look like making calls to a hiring manager and giving a recommendation. Other times, it could be as simple as saving a seat as they visit a new church for the first time.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for bridging the gaps in local communities to establish necessary connections and resources available to military spouses and families. I believe a sense of belonging and being accepted into a community, as well as access to resources can have a profound impact on families.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have had several meetings with base leadership, agencies and community members to brainstorm and plan ways to best support the military family. I have met with community leaders, including elected officials and business owners, to encourage building relationships and opportunities for professional/personal growth for military spouses.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I would love to help foster more personal connections and fill gaps between military installations to their local communities, specifically establishing networks for military spouses to utilize. If such a liaison presently exists at a given base, evaluate and brainstorm ways to improve and grow their programs to make those communities truly feel like home.
Cherie is a powerhouse spouse and Army veteran. Growing up in the local area, Cherie uses her connections to bridge the military/ community divide. She serves on several community programs and nonprofit boards to support our military families and is a big voice in our area for military families and female veterans. She works tirelessly to change the change the narrative from this being an "Air Force" community to using language like "military community" and "currently serving". This inclusion language allows all military members and their families to feel included (something so important in an area housing AD, Guard, and Reserve units spanning four branches). Cherie cares for our youngest troops. She volunteers as a Key Spouse, and stepped in as our Spouse Club president when needed. Cherie loves life! She loves military families! And she loves her community! While we are blessed to have her here at Barksdale, the military community as a while is blessed to have her on their team!
- by julie cooley