Duty Station: Naval Station Mayport
Number of Deployments: 8
Number of PCS's: 7
Share your military spouse story:
My military spouse story, much like the beautiful love story I share with my college sweetheart has been an unconventional one. I could have never imagined the adventure, heartbreak, and growth that deciding to serve alongside the love of my life has provided. It has taught me so much about our world, myself, and the heart of my husband.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Most recently I served as the president for the Family Readiness Group for my husband's command and got the opportunity to facilitate a homecoming with COVID restrictions for over 350 service members and their families. My various volunteer service over the last 5-7 years within the community have also presented unique leadership opportunities, including leading teams that assisted the community of the 7th fleet after the McCain and Fitzgerald tragedies. As well as receiving a congressional award in community service for my advocacy efforts within the San Diego military communities regarding housing and school issues as well as tackling food insecurity issues.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
While stationed in San Diego I founded a non-profit with the goal of raising awareness of the mental health struggles that dependants face. I was actively involved in advocating for housing improvements to include the new tenant bill of rights, as well as school issues, and food insecurity. Since transferring to Mayport I have continued with advocacy efforts regarding military spouse hiring, and have volunteered with NMCRS, USO, Blue Star Families, and the Travis Manion Foundation in various capacities.
Describe how you support your community:
All the resources in the world are meaningless without relationships! As a seasoned spouse, this has been my motto while I serve our community. I believe it is so important for us to meet people where they're at by showing up as our authentic and vulnerable selves. So that is how I build community, not by pretending that everything is "fine" and that this life is "easy" but by being "real" about the challenges while providing hope, kindness, and grace to those around me. When given the opportunity to make someone else's day a little better, life a little easier, we should always take it. It might be saying "hey" to the new spouse at an event or in the commissary, or it might be by storming capital hill, each is equally impactful and important.
What do you advocate for? Why?
Mental Health Awareness to me encompasses all of the quality of life issues that plague our community. We are asked to adjust to hurdles and embrace challenges in every single facet of life. Oftentimes with multi-faceted issues occurring simultaneously, this is not a sustainable model for a successful family unit, successful parenting, or a successful marriage. Thus taking a severe toll of the mental well-being of all individuals involved, with gaps in services that are accessible or reliable. Our families often struggle in the shadows because of the stigma that surrounds these issues.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have appeared on the news regarding various advocacy efforts, have met with several senators and lawmakers as well as utilized my social media platforms.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I would never presume to actually win such a title! There are so many amazing spouses that are trailblazing in impactful and meaningful ways. I am so inspired by the current MSOY family, like them, I just want to leave our community better than I found it!
Erika Bradley is an amazing military spouse who absolutely deserves to be a part of the MSOY community. She is an avid volunteer in our military community, most recently NMRS and Blue Star Families. Last year she participated in the 911 Hero Run and was a finalist in Jacksonville, Florida's Heroes on the Homefront. Erika is the perfect example of a loving and supportive military spouse and would greatly benefit the MSOY community. She is also a Career Specialist with the non-profit, Vet Jobs, and when she is not volunteering in some military capacity, spends most of her days helping transitioning service members and their family members train and prepare for their future career goals. Erika would be a wonderful addition to our community.
- by Rebecca Hyde