Duty Station: Naval Station Norfolk
Number of Deployments: 3
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
My husband and I met when he was 6 years in and I was getting out of the Navy. We met through a mutual friend we both had served with. I was going through a divorce with 3 kids and trying to figure out what my next career move was and Jason was getting ready to go Bahrain for 15 month. We slowly got to know each other as friends and then eventually I introduced him to my kids. Both the kids and Jason fell in love with each other right away and I knew I was with him, however I knew he would be heading over the great big pond soon. One night at the USS Harry Truman’s Christmas party, Jason got down on one knee and proposed and I said yes! A year and 1/2 later we got married! Jason has been my rock through everything and the love he has for myself and my kids is above anything I ever could dream of! We have gone through 2 deployments and a 15 month tour geo bacheloring it. We have definitely had our ups and downs, laughs and tears, and highs and lows, but we always come back to the love we share with each other! When Jason came to his current command, I wanted to be able to support him the way he supports the kids and I. I asked him about the FRG and if he knew anything about it. He said the only thing he knew about it was that the CMC had just put an email out about, looking for spouses interested in joining. I emailed the CMC and next thing you know I was sitting at luncheon with the CO and CMC and I had got nominated to be the treasurer for the Arlington FRG! I’ve been doing it now for 4 years and I love being able to support his command, sailors, spouses and families the way he has supported us! No matter where the military takes us, I know that our love and support for each other is everlasting!
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have now been serving on the FRG for 4 years for the USS Arlington. Several of our board members have come and gone due to their spouses being transferred, but since we were stationed 5 years, I continued to serve on the FRG. The past year has been a struggle keeping the FRG afloat, as it was just myself ( the treasurer) and the president. Our president is a realtor and is busy all the time but still wanted to help when she could. Our CO and CMC wanted us to hold events and fundraisers when we could throughout Covid. In the past year, Kim and I have done a trunk or treat, command event at a local minor league baseball game, sold t-shirts, donut fundraiser, etc. the struggle has been real being just the 2 of us (and many of times Kim was unable to help because of her job), but we were determined to support the command and families! Being a leader means getting the job done with your head held high and with pride of what you are doing. For the past few years, that is what we have done!
Describe your involvement in the military community:
There are many ways that I stay involved in the military community. I have served on the FRG for my husbands ship now for 4 years. I absolutely love being able to help family members of sailors. I myself was a sailor and I understand the trials and tributes of being on both sides of the fence, so in any way I can help or serve, I do so. I am also a computer science teacher and PTA president at a school that is heavily populated with military children! We as a PTA always make sure we have events that involve our military children and service members. For instance, we had a Santa night one evening and one of stations included children writing letter to service members deployed or deploying ( it just so happened my husband was deploying a few days before Christmas so the letters went with the sailors & marines on the Arlington). I always let my students know that if they are having a hard time my door is always open for them. I absolutely love being able to support my students!
Describe how you support your community:
I am a huge supporter of community building. I currently serve as PTA president at our youngest’s school. I serve teacher/parent gifted advisory board for Suffolk Public Schools. I manage 2 soccer teams and serve as the fundraiser chair for our communities soccer club. Not only do I serve in our city community, but I serve in our church as a Sunday school teacher for 5th grade boys. I think it’s paramount to be involved in our community and church and to give back to others. I believe giving back to the community is rewarding but also a humbling experience. Our kids volunteer at a local animal shelter and for a soccer team for kids with disabilities. Being involved in a community means building relationships with each other and supporting one another. We want to teach our kids that giving back is better than receiving; that helping others is better than serving yourself.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for my family, friends, students, community, military, and church! I believe that I have been placed in the various roles that I am in for a reason. If I am advocating for the military, I am trying to help families/children/ spouses go through whatever trials and tributes they are enduring why their sailor is away. If I’m advocating for my students, it’s my roles to listen to them, teach them, be there for them in whatever way works best for them. If I’m advocating for my soccer team, it’s my role to teach them the game and give them constructive criticism and of course cheer them on. If I’m advocating for children and spouse, it’s my job to guide them, love them, support them and be there for them. I could continue to go on with examples! I advocate for whoever needs me to be there for them! As a Christian, I believe that I am here to support, love, encourage, and guide anyone who needs my services!
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
When it comes to the FRG, I have used social media as my primary source to reach out to families and sailors/marines. Every single time my husband’s ship goes out to sea, I always make a post letting everyone know that if they need anything, they are more than welcome to reach out to me via phone, instant messenger, email, etc. I always like to do fundraisers on the ship when in port to reach out to sailors and just let them know I am there for them and their families. Also, I think it’s important to be at indocs, command events, and deployment briefs! Building relationships is key when it comes to being a spouse or family member of a sailor deployed, and I have devoted the past 4 years to making sure I have done exactly that! I have friendships with family members who I’ve met on this journey, and they have come and gone, but that friendship will always remain!
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
If I were to win this title, I would just be humbled. I have served in the military myself and understand what it’s like to be gone and worry about my family at home. So I feel now it’s my turn to be an advocate for the families back home and away. It’s my job with this title to make sure their deployment and sea experience is as easy and pleasurable as possible.
I nominate Holly because she is a rock star and inspires me daily as a Military Spouse. She has selflessly devoted her time to the USS Arlington for 3+ years as the FRG Treasurer and Secretary, and supported me while I was the Arlington's Ombudsman. I could always count on Holly to help me, and to do whatever it took to support our ship families. In addition to supporting our FRG, Holly is an active member of her PTA, a teacher and a soccer mom. I nominate Holly because she supports military families and is a great advocate, mentor and role model for other milspouses.
- by Cassandra Temple