Duty Station: Naval Station Norfolk
Number of Deployments: 1
Number of PCS's: 3
Share your military spouse story:
My journey as a military spouse started two years before the military when I married Austin. In the first month of marriage, we became full-time parents to Austin’s son through DFPS. We grew to a family of five over the next two years, our youngest two being Irish twins. With prayer, Austin enlisted in the Navy. After Bootcamp and with Austin in “A” school, our family moved to Illinois. Our few months there was difficult, we faced legal dilemmas regarding my stepson, received a diagnosis of Autism for him, and I had an ectopic pregnancy and experienced a rare illness. This began my downward spiral into depression. After five months, we moved again, Austin to Virginia for more school, us to Florida to his home port. Barely a year into military life, our youngest two were also diagnosed with Autism. I learned I was pregnant after Christmas leave, then the heartache of another miscarriage. Once school was complete, he joined his deployed ship in the middle of a pandemic. I was already used to being alone, but this brought a new level of isolation and the FRG was not there to support me. When time came for a new FRG board, I voluntered, excited to be able to help others avoid the same isolation and loneliness I had felt from the prior board. We moved to Virginia 2 years later, and Austin finally lives with us! I also joined an amazing non-profit, the Ohana Homefront Foundation, focusing on suicide awareness and prevention for military and families. Since being in Virginia, we opened our home to all sailors in my husbands command and our military community, so they don’t have to feel alone. I am back in school to obtain a degree in Christian military counseling so that I can provide free counseling to our unique community.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
While I have only been a MilSo for a short while, I have already dipped my toes in the leadership realm. Not only am I sitting secretary for both my husband’s FRG and the Ohana Homefront Foundation, I also help lead several social media pages for military spouses and family members.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
My involvement in the military community began when I tried to join our FRG, offering my time and abilities and was denied access. On deployment when I learned the FRG did not have funds to ensure every sailor would receive a treat at Halloween, I stuffed candy bags and wrote cards to each sailor for Halloween myself. I did the same at Christmas and Valentines. Post deployment there was a change of the FRG board. I volunteered again and am now the sitting secretary. I also joined a worthy non-profit, the Ohana Homefront Foundation. I am the sitting secretary of the organization, whose mission is to support the entire military community with suicide awareness. Having personally fought depression, I know how important it is to have the right people in your corner, fighting with you when you feel like giving up. I have also gone back to school to study counseling in the military setting, so that I may be an even bigger asset to our military community.
Describe how you support your community:
I support my community by being present, online, and in real life. Our military community is so vast, stretched from duty station to duty station across the globe. For my online spouses, I am a present voice, and for those that are local, I am present in real life. Online, I run various Facebook groups for military spouses, families, and loved ones, and am present in dozens more. I always do my best to be a virtual cheerleader or shoulder to cry on when needed, I even host a monthly support group zoom through the Ohana Homefront Foundation. In my local community, I am present. I host coffee hours, meals, and events for local spouses. Overall, I am present. I do my absolute best to be there for anyone, no matter the circumstances.
What do you advocate for? Why?
When it comes to whom I advocate for, it is easy to say I advocate for each and every person in the military community: service member, spouse, children, and any others that don’t fall into those categories.I am passionate about caring for each individual and the family unit in its entirety.I never want to leave anyone feeling less than cared for and deserving of love, because that is what I am called to do as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is important to me that everyone is treated equally. I am constantly seeking opportunities to open doors and invite everyone in, helping me establish a relationship with those around me so they know I am in their corner. One thing I am extremely passionate about is our service members’ families' mental health. While mental health is often talked about in the military community for service members, and services are readily provided to them, their families are often left to fend for themselves. I want to help change that, because I have been there.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I consider myself a young spouse at the age of 29 years. My primary means to share my cause has been social media, specifically Facebook. There are so many outlets for the military and their families on social media with groups, live feed, stories, and influential profiles, what better tool is there to reach the masses in this day in age?
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
If chosen as the AFI Spouse of the Year, I would use the title to help spread awareness to the military community about mental health awareness for all. I would work towards making sure that everyone, no matter who they are, has resources available to them, and a voice that is heard.
Eleanor is the kindest person you will meet. She volunteers doing so much for our military community. She is the first person to lend a helping hand to those in need. Other than the volunteering she does at the installation her husband is stationed helping sailors & families she volunteers countless hours with the Ohana Homefront Foundation as an executive board member. Eleanor puts others needs and their recognition before her own and she deserves to be recognized for everything she does for military families & service members.
- by Natalie Ealy
Eleanor is a devoted wife to her Sailor and mom to 3 rambunctious, special needs, boys. Oh, and while we're at it, throw in the fact that she is going to school full time, is on the FRG for her husbands command, AND she is the Secretary for the Ohana Homefront Foundation.
Eleanor doesn't think twice when it comes to supporting our Military & their families. She recently cooked Thanksgiving dinner for 35 and then took the time to take food to a fellow MilSpouse's daughter who was in the hospital.
To summarize, Eleanor is truly MY hero!
- by Sarah Otto