Duty Station: Naval Base San Diego
Number of Deployments: 3
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
Being a spouse and former service member drives me to help Service members and their families. Becoming a spouse after being the service member is a rough adjustment, that no one really talks about. Most people think prior service military spouses have an easier time because we are used to the PCSing, the deployments, the never set in stone schedule. Truth is it's actually not easier. It's hard to carry the frustrations of military spouse life when you don't exactly know how things work, its harder when you know how they should work and see that it is not going that way. Transition from service member to military spouse showed me so many opportunities to face and overcome adversities that I had never known before. How to realize that although I have experience in the military it does not translate to spousedom was the first challenge that hit me. The challenge of when to offer advice to my spouse from my experience and when to just be the support system who listens and offers a rock to lean on without trying to interfere my husband's career. Each new challenge becomes a new strength and skill to share and builds my character.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have been a command Ombudsman and active member of a few Family Readiness Groups (FRGs). Including help start a couple FRGs and family associations. As a former service member myself, I have been active in many commands and advocacy groups. I have had the distinct pleasure to lead and organize community events and truly be active in command and social activities. I learned how find and utilize resources and provide them to others. Especially for other male spouses who are often lost in the never ending spouse group posts starting with "Hey Ladies" or "Little Black Dress Party", and also other LGBTQ spouses and dependents who even after the repeal of DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) are still looked at like you just found a strange and powerful unicorn. As a member of two often over looked spouse demographics I want to show that we are here and visible. I want to have a platform to pull our chairs to the tables of spouse groups and social programs.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have always taken a very active interest in my husbands commands and ways to be involved, from bake sales to events. From deployment readiness to underways, I also in my civilian career am always working with my employer to be active and involved with local bases and commands. I have worked with my employer on PCS schedules and challenges, outreach opportunities and the special challenges our families face. As well as being active with my own previous and my husband's previous and current commands FRGs and family networks.
Describe how you support your community:
In my community I organize and chair my employer's yearly support of the Toys for Tots campaigns, I have also gotten my employer to also become active in hosting events and drives for our local military community and becoming more seen in our military family community. I support community organizations that help our LGBTQ youth, service members and spouses. I belong to online social groups dedicated to that community . I also do the same with groups for Male spouses. I have had the pleasure of serving as a command Ombudsman and active member of a few Family Readiness Groups (FRGs). Going from serviceman to spouse has given me a depth of understanding and has equipped me with a vast toolbox of skills that has formed not just my personal but, also my professional abilities. Learning to adapt to a new role and a role that is always fluid is becoming the best opportunity I have been fortunate to undertake.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for equality of representation of male spouses and LGBT spouses and dependents. Few times do we see posts addressed to those demographics, it is far too often post starting with "Hey ladies... or Hey girls..." and its my turn to speak up for change as those before me have done. As a member of two often overlooked and marginalized demographics, I feel it is time for someone to step up and say "I see you, I advocate for you, I support you!"
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I am active in multiple spouse groups and social clubs. I start open conversations about how to advance the representation and equality of presence of the groups to which I belong.I also look for opportunities such as the PCS GRADES spouse sponsor program, This amazing group is made by, and made for the military spouse and military family community in a way they helps answer many PCS questions. It helps provide housing information and honest reviews of where you may find yourself going on the next PCS adventure. It provides information on up to date changes and happenings with all areas of PCS from housing reviews, school reviews, policy changes, and more! It has been a great bonding and networking opportunity as a new and interactive way to help our communities around the world to be active within and provide visibility for all. I enjoy the opportunity to speak openly and honestly about our communities and the challenges faced by the individual facets of the community at large.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I hope to build strong bonds and a platform of equality and strong leadship. I hope to accomplish making the AFI MILITARY SPOUSE OF THE YEAR title one that shows its advocacy and dedication to all spouses and demographics. I would use my year as the AFI Spouse of the year to further promote just how far the military and our spouse community has come with accepting everyone that makes up the patchwork quilt of our spousal community! I want to be a Military Spouse of the Year to be able to uplift other spouses both in my same demographics as well as spouses in general. I want to be a part of the vast and prestigious line of those who came before me and those who will come after. I am honored, humbled and above all else blessed to have this opportunity to serve in a new and exciting adventure and truly look forward to what it brings.
I met Jerad early in 2021 as he was being interviewed for a Spouse Sponsor position. During that time I learned that he was prior Army. Now he is filling a different roll, as a military spouse.
After Jerad’s military service, he began experiencing what other military spouses were experiencing; being left in the dark, deployments with no family support, and no one helping families navigate the waters. He saw a need for advocacy and change. Jerad became the ombudsman for the military families stationed aboard his husbands ship. He kept the families involved, informed and was there when they needed him. He fought for the families to make sure they were taken care of.
While he is no long an ombudsman, he continues to advocate for military families. He is also shares resources and helping to navigate one of the major stressors for military families, PCSing.
I nominate Jerad for the 2022 AFI Military Spouse of the Year Award. He would make an amazing addition to our MSOY family!
- by Stacey Benson
Jerad is the best friend you could ever ask for. He's there to support you no matter the hour or what is going on in his life. He knows how to make everyone feel special. He puts his whole heart into supporting his husband and making him smile. He has made a home for himself and Shaun no matter where Shaun was stationed. He has always encouraged and helped Shaun maintain friendships. Not to mention excelling in his own career, even when it changes due to military relocation.
The world is a better place because Jerad Knight off is in it. If you know him, you are amazed by him.
- by Jayme Dimmick
Jerad is amazing! He is a hard work, a loyal friend and a person who is willing to help everyone! He is someone you can always count on and is one of the most trustworthy persons I know.
- by Stephanie King
Jerad works tirelessly to support other spouses. He has been a service member, a spouse, an ombudsman, a spouse sponsor, a champion of spouse advocacy.
He works hard in the local facebook spouse groups and in the international male military spouse group the manpendants to share information and make new spouses to the group feel accepted and welcomed.
His husband is the US NAVY currently deployed and Jerad has worked hard to communicate and share the little things that happen back home with his husband to make him feel like he is still active in his daily routine.
Jerad has worked hard to also break the stereotype of seasoned spouses acting like they know it all.
Jerad also works hard at his job to help the military and local community from running his teams Toys for Tots collections to getting his employer CubeSmart to be more active with the local bases making them become a truly military friendly company in our area.
- by Mike LaShore