Branch: Coast Guard
Duty Station: Coast Guard District 11
Number of Deployments: -9
Number of PCS's: -4
Share your military spouse story:
I married my high school sweetheart & love this rollercoaster of a life we have built together. We have 6 children, 11, 8 & 6 and three 4-year-olds! We began dating in High School, I knew from the beginning he was the one for me, but I never anticipated where our journey would take us. We went to different colleges & met up on weekends, through chaotic work schedules & rigorous class loads we made it work. We married & started a family, when our oldest was 2 he made the decision to join the CG. We always wanted 4 kids, fast forward 4 years, now had 3 close in age & decided to try for one more before we had to PCS again. We got pregnant & my husband was underway for the first ultrasound when we found out it was THREE more babies! That was an interesting email! Early on we learned about numerous complications of our pregnancy. We relied heavily on our community for support during weekly appointments & full day visits to specialists, tears & uncertainty. We discussed options & difficult decisions. Ultimately, we delivered 3 babies at 35 weeks. We had to stay at the hospital until they could perform heart surgery on Baby A. My husband had 3 kids at home & I was with the triplets 2.5 hours away at UNC, we accepted the generous support of our CG community to get through those 10 weeks, the amount of support was humbling. Baby A came home with a feeding tube & took 2 years of therapy & specialists to remove, she's had 2 heart surgeries, hospitalizations, Cerebral Palsy diagnosis, PT, OT & an open-heart surgery to go this spring. We could not have made it through without the support of our military community, I am forever grateful & looking for ways to pay it forward. To say we have a busy life would be an understatement, but I also fulfill many roles in addition to mom, I serve as the unit co-ombudsman, I run an etsy shop, I am very active in the base community, leading paint nights & co-hosting base Bunco, I am also the leader & founder of our base Girl Scout troop.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I’ve been an ombudsman for 5 years. 2 years at CGC Diligence and currently serving 3 years as co-ombudsman at TRACEN Petaluma. I served in this role through 2 major hurricanes, mandatory evacuations during deployment, 2 CA wildfires, & the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m responsible for communication with over 450 families. As a command liaison, I represent families during official visits, and serve as an advocate for dependent needs & concerns. I connect families with resources, share information about CG initiatives, command policies, & assist with the relocation process. I handle confidential information & serve as a point of contact during emergencies. In this role, I’ve given multiple presentations, handled sensitive situations, & learned how to manage work-life balance. I’ve attended several trainings including SAFE Talk, ASIST, Red Cross First Aid & Emergency preparedness training to be able to better support the families I serve.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I am passionate about scouting and giving children the skills to grow into young leaders & confident adults. Scouting can be difficult for military kids. When moving to a new station, finding troops that are accepting new members or fitting into established troops presents our children with unique challenges. I've established a Girl Scout troop every PCS and influenced 30+ military kids over the last 7 yrs and engaged military spouses to create a legacy that will continue past my time there. I've worked to inspire them to continue scouting in new duty locations. When they move on, the knowledge & experience from our time together can start a new troop focused on the new location or help with an existing troop, while empowering them to overcome difficulties of military scouts & how to help others feel welcome. I hope I can leverage my passion for scouting with my unique geographical fluidity to continue to inspire, educate, & open a new world of opportunities for our children.
Describe how you support your community:
In addition to my role as ombudsman, I volunteer to co-host base Bunco games and work with the Morale Committee & Spouses Association to instruct monthly paint nights at our current unit for spouses & A-school students. I started homecoming pier-side potlucks, underway dependent brunches, game nights and paint parties during deployments as well as developed & wrote a bi-monthly newsletter incorporating recipes, workouts, gardening tips & expertise from unit spouses to build community & morale at our unit. With the COVID pandemic, virtual events like paints nights provided needed social interaction & valued breaks. I also attend events to support my base community, walking in the LGBTQ+ pride parade, CG Day festivities, serve on the CPOA brunch committee for new Chief Spouses, & am active in Spouses Association. Most importantly, I maintain, update, edit, enhance Welcome Aboard books for incoming families providing must-know info about base, Sonoma County and near-by areas.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for being involved! Volunteer in your communities, participate in sponsored activities, & take advantage of the amazing network of "built-in community" we have as military spouses. Every PCS will be what you make it; make it the best. Deployments, duty, household responsibilities, managing the finances, caring for the children, chauffeuring, planning and cooking all the meals (while trying to acclimate to a new city) can feel like an impossible task. We’ve all been there but we are fortunate to have this unique community that military life provides. A community where we’ve all shared the same experiences means you are never alone. If the pandemic has shown us anything it is that you have folks you can lean on, from at least 6ft away, because maintaining a physical distance doesn’t mean you still can’t be social. Connections aren’t limited by the constraints of the pandemic, so even if it’s a virtual event, sign up and stay connected!
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I meet an extraordinary number of spouses as a training center ombudsman, mostly in person, but many through email correspondence or social media. I use this exposure to pair every new introduction with an invitation to the next Spouses’ Association meeting or upcoming base event. I give presentations, host tables at TRACEN functions, stay active on social media, publish newsletters & distribute our Welcome Aboard Books all to share unique features of our area, events, local happenings & more ways to connect with other spouses. I work closely with the associations onboard TRACEN to keep the families apprised of upcoming events & ways to participate. I attend all major base events & I am present at many community functions; I encourage other spouses participate with me or ask them to stop by to say hi! Having a small army of my own, my vehicle seats 12, so I often volunteer carpool to events so people more attend, being stuck in a car together is a great way to connect folks.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
If I was an AFI Military Spouse of the Year, I would use this opportunity to communicate my message of “be involved” with a greater audience. The act of becoming an involved partner in one’s community and how being an active part of where you live through participation, volunteerism or just showing up can have a positive effect on not only yourself but your family and ultimately the people around you! I hope my passion inspires even just one person to get involved and makes their life as a military family more enjoyable while giving each PCS so much more than just a new address.
I am writing to nominate Jessie Smith for the Military spouse of the year. Jessie is a Coast Guard spouse married to ET1 Anthony Smith, an instructor at a major Coast Guard Training Center, a mother of six to include triplets. Jessie goes above and beyond in serving not only as a supportive spouse to her Coastie and super mom to her 6 kids, but to our Coast Guard community. Jessie serves as one of our Ombudsman for our Tracen Petaluma Families. As an Ombudsman, Jessie serves as a direct link between the Command and our Coast Guard Families, ensuring up-to-date information is passed back and forth effectively and that folks get access to the support they need, when they need it. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, various Wildfire events, and the PCS season, Jessie has been in the forefront and in the background connecting our families to vital resources. Jessie always has a smile on her face and a level of put togetherness that is admirable. I humbly ask that you join me in saying thank you
- by Kristin Ramassini