Jacqueline S Williams
Duty Station: Fort Leavenworth
Number of Deployments: 15
Number of PCS's: 3
Share your military spouse story:
I don't have superpowers beyond what the average person has. My name isn't spoken often in many circles beyond my front porch. But what fifteen years as a military spouse and a lifetime as an Army Brat have shaped me to be is a person who makes tiny ripples that hopefully become big impacts. I spent my childhood growing up in two very different worlds; ten years of my childhood were spent overseas, exploring all that Germany could offer me, from the schooling I received to spending as much time as I could with my German grandparents until the military sent us to Alabama. Talk about culture shock. Culture shock would continue to be part of the story of my life so far. I remember it clearly, as I drove up to the gate at MacDill AFB, looking to spend the afternoon preparing lesson plans and enjoying the bay breeze on the beach, only to be informed that my dependent ID card had experienced and I now was simply a civilian, aged out and left to find my civilian way alone. It wasn't long until a tall, dark and handsome guy with a nametape convinced me to trade the beaches of Florida for the pinewoods of Ft. Polk. From there we have experienced the culture shock of different units and different parts of the United States and most recently, overseas in South Korea. But nothing prepared us, parents of two amazing boys who have seen and lived and taken in so much of this world, for the culture shock of returning stateside. Nothing prepared us for the financial shock of PCSing stateside either. But it has been those culture shocks that have continued to push me to pay it forward and to be an active member of each community we have called home over these last fifteen years.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Picture it. February 2020, South Korea. A text alert informing us that we were locking down because of some virus changed everything overnight. Fast forward just 13 weeks later and suddenly I found myself coordinating 100+ volunteers and hundreds of grocery orders daily as the leader of the Humphreys Quarantine Shoppers. The Commissary at Camp Humphreys didn't have Click2Go and folks forced to spend 14 days in the Humphreys Quarantine Barracks upon arriving needed groceries among other support. Additionally, I served as one of the four coordinators of Humphreys Quarantine Support, organizing and executing welcome bags for families, answering endless questions on our Facebook page, attending briefing to update the Commands on the human side of Quarantine, and even delivering Christmas, complete with Santa in a Humvee on Christmas Eve to the 600+ in the Quarantine Barracks. My efforts ensured our team of volunteers stayed energized and folks in Quarantine were not forgotten.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
We have a running joke: give it a few days and our paths will cross whether you know it or not. Most people have never heard my name, and that's okay because I know the small things I'm doing are making deep impacts. I've served on the School Advisory Committees, coached CYS sports, lead FRG groups, taught Sunday School, briefed at the Newcomers Brief, co-hosted a morning show on AFN, but my favorite service to our military community has been my involvement with Humphreys Quarantine Support. If you haven't been to Korea in the last two years, you've never heard of our efforts probably, but know that everyone arriving in Korea and quarantining at Camp Humphreys has crossed my path. From making grocery deliveries, to delivering Welcome Bags, to delivering Christmas decorations to those in Quarantine, making sure the human side of Quarantine isn't forgotten has been my greatest act of service, so far. From families to unaccompanied soldiers to those TDY, all matter, regardless of rank.
Describe how you support your community:
Have you ever had that deep, passionate concern about your community? And when given the opportunity to stand at the mic, before a panel of your community leadership find that that deep passion has been overwhelmed by fear? That was me, and then I realized that our community leadership made themselves accessible because they wanted to hear those concerns. And so, I found my voice. From listening to my fellow community members and their concerns and sharing them at town halls, on Facebook pages, while waiting at Starbucks for our coffee, I have found my way to speak to leadership about our community. I have found my way to serve as a committee member, sit on the boards, attend the briefs and listen to all the information being put out. This afforded me the opportunity to serve the community as a co-host on a weekly AFN radio morning show. It has afforded me the opportunity to be the voice for others. I am your PTSO President, your School Board member, your SFRG Leader, your neighbor.
What do you advocate for? Why?
Where does your joy come from? When was the last time you stopped, took a breath and felt confident that there is pure joy in your soul? If you haven't done that in a while, do it now. Take as much time as you need. I find that using my words, my voice, my energy to help others find joy, peace, confidence is my why. If you can't find joy in your current situation, why? What can I do to help you find it? If you can't find peace in your current state, why? Lean on me, tell me what I can do to bring you at least an ounce of peace. If you aren't able to hold your head up, what's making you hang your head? Tell me, my ears are yours for listening. Let me be your cheerleader. Let me be your brave to speak up. Let me advocate for you. Pouring joy into you, sharing some peace with you, seeing you carry yourself with your shoulders back and your head held high gives me joy, refills my cup and my energy, reminds me that everything will be ok. So come to me when you just need to be.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I'm a grassroots kinda gal: AFAP, Town Hall Meetings, ICE Comments, Facebook posts, bumping into you at the Commissary or Starbucks. It's not that I'm not capable of writing profound articles or calling the news outlets, but before I go to the top, I want to make sure I did my part to engage the source, the foundation, the lowest level. I will gladly stand before the panel of leaders and vocalize the praises and the concerns. I will gladly reach across my networks of resources and make the warm handoffs. But, I will use my efforts to always start at the lowest level, ensuring everyone impacted, everyone with the ability to take action, is aware of concerns, but also the praises.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
The MSOY platform is an amazing gift and one that I hope to use to share others’ efforts in their local communities. I’m just one small ripple, meeting with other small ripples, making deep impacts in our communities.
I jokingly refer to Jackie as my “emotional support person” because even though I’ve only known her for 5 months, I have known that she is a force for goodness since the moment I met her.
Jackie has one of the most impressive volunteer resume I’ve ever encountered during my 19 years associated with the service and I am in awe of her.
Some of Jackie’s volunteer efforts include volunteering with the Cub Scouts, the Red Cross, the Spouses Club (serving as an officer in many), Lion’s Club, her children’s PTSOs, and in various roles at her church.
My favorite of Jackie’s accomplishments is certainly all of the work she did for quarantined families in Korea during COVID. She organized and coordinated grocery runs for quarantined families. She also made sure that all of the families had a socially distanced visit from Santa.
I have barely touched all of Jackie’s accomplishments here. I would love an opportunity to tell you and the world more about this remarkable woman.
- by Meagan Drew