Duty Station: Fort Leavenworth
Number of Deployments: 0
Number of PCS's: 5
Share your military spouse story:
As a new military spouse, I thought the Army was just his job, & that had nothing to do with me. I could not have been more wrong. Yes, the Army is his service & his career, but it is a part of who I am too. That is something I have learned to love. As the years passed, I attended various AFTB courses & met some phenomenal military spouses who embraced the title of military spouse. It is through their guidance & my education that I learned that the greatest joy of being a military spouse would only be revealed to me when I leaned into the culture & accepted the community that was waiting for me. It was during my husband's time at Ft. Campbell (2016-2021) we experienced the full impact of the military community. After 3 years of infertility, we found out we were expecting our first child only to miscarry. I was devastated. The day following the start of my miscarriage, my husband was scheduled to be TDY for the next 2 weeks. Upon hearing of our loss, my husband's boss immediately sent him home & ordered someone else to go on the TDY mission my husband had spent months planning because I was more important. That was the first time I felt the Army care about me personally. It impacted me so much that it shaped the way both my husband & I make decisions regarding soldiers & families in units that we belong to. When my husband took command it became my ministry to pour love into the soldiers & families in his unit. I wanted them to know that no matter how far from home they might be, they had someone who loved them, was here to listen, & cared about the things going on in their lives. In 2019, I was 5 months pregnant with our 2nd living child when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Our military family surrounded us again & made sure we had everything we needed. This community is special & powerful. When you lean into this community & embrace your role as a military spouse, it will bring you the greatest joys even in the darkest moments of your life.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have spent the last 6 years seeking to empower military spouses and educate them on the resources and benefits available to them. It is important for spouses to feel they have an ally and a guide in this unique life we live. I strive to be that for all military spouses but specifically new military spouses because I was lost when I was a new Army wife. No matter if I have been in a formal volunteer role or just in my personal life as a military spouse, I lead others through support, empowerment, and friendship. We all need mentors and I am honored that so many have looked to me for guidance and that I have been able to be a part of their journey.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
In addition to my volunteer service - I was a finalist for Fort Campbell's Volunteer of the Year two years running (2019-2020) - I run a company called Spouse SERVE where we help military families calm the chaos of military life, providing education and resources designed specifically for military spouses. One of the core values of Spouse SERVE is to uplift, encourage, and empower military spouse owned businesses. Each month we feature other military spouse owned businesses and showcase them completely free of charge. We do this to shine a light on phenomenal businesses for more people to find them and to build an even stronger community within the military where we do not compete with each other, but lift each other up. Additionally, I am a member of the Fort Leavenworth Spouses Club and truly value the relationships that are blossoming through the connections formed there. There is nothing more valuable in this life than a strong community!
Describe how you support your community:
Creating Spouse SERVE has been so much more than a business venture. It has become a space to connect on a personal level with military spouses from all branches all over the world and to share experiences. Through that community, I have was able to connect a new marine wife I have never met with a team of new friends at an installation I have never even visited. Being a connection and a virtual best friend for military spouses all over the globe has been so wonderful, but even more special than that is when the military brings us together in the same place and we can become real life best friends! While it is a business, Spouse SERVE also donates products annually to installations and groups throughout the military. Through Spouse SERVE we are helping military families prep for moves, work on budgets, meal prep, learn more about military life, and make the most of each duty station. This mission is so important to me because life doesn't start once your service member hits retirement.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I want military spouses to know that they don't have to be on the outside of society or community simply because they move every 2-3 years. They don't have to "make do" with something that doesn't fit their life because this life is unique. I want them to celebrate the uniqueness of their lives and to be proud of the life they are living. We are all proud of our service members and the public thanks them, as they should. Unfortunately, most of the time military spouses are left in the background feeling unappreciated, while they are the ones keeping the wheels turning at home so their service member can continue to defend our freedoms.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have spent several years growing the community of Spouse SERVE on social media and on our blog. In this time handles and faces on my phone have become real life best friends and the connections continue to grow. I have been able to alter the products we offer through our site (both paid and free) to better support military families based on feedback from spouses through our platforms. Additionally, I have been featured on several podcasts (The Waiting Warrior, The Dependable Dependa, Moments with an MEO) as well as interviewed for military publications (Bad Ass Military Moms and Military Families Magazine).
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
If I were to be selected as the Military Spouse of the Year, I hope to empower military spouses all over the globe to step into and embrace their military community who are waiting to love on them and do life with them as their local family. Additionally, I hope to be able to serve more families by uplifting military spouse owned businesses and shining a light on all the fantastic work that military spouses do. I would be honored to grow Spouse SERVE to a place where our charitable giving can be tripled and we can help even more military families calm the chaos of military life - no matter their budget. I hope to never have cost be a barrier for military spouses having the resources they need to thrive in this unique life. Having recently met a few MSOY winners, I am honored to even be nominated in the same category as such inspiring and powerful individuals.
She has put together an amazing resource for military spouses with her planners. She’s not only giving us what we need, but the sole fact that she’s paying attention to our needs helps so many people feel seen and served
- by Michelle Packard Bowler