Duty Station: Naval Station Norfolk
Number of Deployments: 2
Number of PCS's: 6
Share your military spouse story:
I was born and raised in Poulsbo, WA where I swore I would never ever marry a sailor. Then one day my husband caught my eye. We met and like most couples got married quick to get the first PCS in the books. Made my first ever big move right after getting married to Charleston, SC. We’ve now been married 16 years and have 6 PCS moves under our belt, 2 deployments and a change of homeport. We adopted a son that is now 14!
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I jumped into the ombudsman role when my husband’s ship was getting ready to head out on deployment. They hired 6 of us (carrier life) and left on that deployment 1 week later. We hadn’t even completed training and those phones RANG OFF THE HOOK. It taught me more than I would ever imagine and made me love the program even more. I had no idea the things families struggled with. I have now been an ombudsman for 13 years serving for 2 carriers, 2 regional areas and 2 base positions. In my carrier positions I have taken the role and developed the program at the command with the command to best understand and advocate for our families and their needs. As the regional position I have listened to areas of concern in every area then meet with the admiral to plan how to best support change, when, and where. As a COT I give feedback to CNIC on how to better bring our trainings up to date and keep them accurate.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have been an ombudsman for 13 years now. I have served for the LINCOLN, FORD, and CNRSW. I am currently serving as the CNRMA ombudsman, Norfolk and Oceana ombudsman while also serving as the Hampton Roads Ombudsmen assembly chair.
Describe how you support your community:
I do my very best to ensure every single person feels heard and supported. When I came into this lifestyle I felt swallowed alive and I hope no one ever feels like that when I’m around. I hold events and get togethers to keep everyone connected and feeling like they’re never alone.
What do you advocate for? Why?
The families and Ombudsmen. I advocate for the ombudsmen because it’s a job so few run to do, but it’s such an important job. I try to make the program enticing and exciting. I do all I can to ensure that the ones that do run to do it (even if they’re voluntold) have the support and knowledge they need. By supporting the ombudsmen I’m also supporting the families. So many families have no knowledge at all of resources and support out there for them. So they sit miserable and feeling unsupported. I can’t single handedly care for every family in the Navy life. But educating our ombudsmen is the best way I can try to reach every single family.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I’m the ombudsman assembly chair for Hampton Roads. So I hold the trainings and networking events for all of the ombudsmen in Hampton Roads. Ensuring they’re educated and connected to not only each-other but all of the resources available to them and their families. I teach with FFSC as a COT (certified ombudsman trainer). As a COT I’m helping to train and develop the new ombudsmen in the area. Sharing my knowledge of the program and all of my real life experiences. When/if there are problems or concerns about anything from the local ombudsmen I use my chain of command to ensure the issue is heard and addressed.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I hope to spotlight the ombudsman program and encourage more spouses to join the program and spread their knowledge.
Dani has been an Ombudsman on many platforms for over 13 years. She is the current Ombudsman for the USS Gerald Ford, a certified ombudsman trainer, and is also the Hampton Roads Ombudsman chair.
Dani assists her command families during rigorous sea trials and quals, she has also been proactive in providing vital information during the COVID 19 pandemic. This has proven valuable to her command families and all of Hampton Roads.
Dani ensures the Hampton Roads area Ombudsman are equipped with the most up-to-date resources and information to successfully tend to their perspective commands. Dani ensures that all her Ombudsmen feel appreciated by coordinating activities that afford them the opportunity to network with one another, learn from one another and also show appreciation and give back to our local communities.
The best part is she does so with a huge smile, respect, and wisdom one could only have from years of experience, or as we like to say, "seasoning".
- by Amy A Trahan