Nominations are closed. Come back February 3 to meet the candidates!

Juvilyn Garcia

Branch: Marine Corps

Duty Station: Marine Corps Base Hawaii

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 4

Share your military spouse story:
I am a mother to four little boys under the age of 7 and the spouse of Marine Corps, SSgt Martin-Miguel Garcia for the last 9 years. I was named 2020-2021 Armed Forces Insurance Marine Corps Recruiting Depot San Diego Military Spouse of the Year. My volunteerism, generosity, and passion to serve military families in every community I am placed in has humbled me. I am strongly passionate about empowering military spouses and strong military marriages. I believe it’s crucial to lift each other up as military spouses and also to set a lasting foundation to strive in this challenging lifestyle. I made the mistake of thinking anyone could be married to a marine if they were strong enough to not give up when the times got hard. I’ve seen more divorces and separations than I’d like to admit being a military spouse but now I look at long-term military spouses with awe and cheer them on because to be a military spouse takes so much sacrifice and dedication. You have to be tolerant, flexible, resilient, and you have to make so many sacrifices. You have to be capable enough to manage a household single-handedly, but humble enough to be sidelined in social situations. Military life is a life of sacrifice, however large or small, the saying is true military spouses are the strength behind those boots.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I make it a point to get to know every spouse within my husband’s unit just to give them reassurance that if ever they need someone, I am here. It helps with this duty station because I’m familiar with it. I had a spouse who was actually here longer than me feel trapped being on an island. I offered to take her around the island, show her Oahu’s favorites and make her feel good about being on a place she’s not familiar with. I love giving back to the community and making others feel welcomed. It truly makes my heart happy.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
My passion and generosity to serve military families in my community has built the involvement I have today. I truly believe staying active can make you feel good and help you to be better at being present with your kids. I love being active in the military community whether it’s playing in a military spouses’ kickball league, attending a LINKS course, beach clean ups, volunteering on base during holiday events or just meeting up with other spouses to connect. Being involved at each duty station has made me appreciate the military lifestyle we are given because I get to be transparent and bare it with other spouses going through the same lifestyle.

Describe how you support your community:
I support my community by being present for them. I remember being a non seasoned spouse feeling lost and not having a community to lean on. Now, I make it a goal to support every spouse I encounter. I encourage spouses to get involved, get on board with the lifestyle because as cliche as it sounds every duty station is what you make it, and truly showing others the power of staying positive. It’s easy to say how horrible it is to be a military spouse and it’s even easier to not appreciate this life we were given, but it’s rewarding appreciating the experiences we get to go through compared to those in the civilian world. So that’s why I emphasize getting involved and meeting the community. I love assisting others to find the hidden resources or the pathways to make their current duty station worth it.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for strong military marriages and empowering military spouses. Marriage is tough in general but despite my strong marriage, we’ve had our fair share of stressful challenges and obstacles, especially when it comes to military life. Military PCS moves, military deployments, having kids while stationed far from family, changing jobs, and learning to make peace with becoming a stay-at-home mom when you continue to have littles. However, building a team and working together is crucial with this lifestyle. I advocate healthy communication, embracing the ups and downs and making sure you date your spouse regularly. Second, I strongly advocate for empowering military spouses because I’ve heard way too many times, “oh I’m just spouse or I don’t bring nothing to the table.” That’s such a FALSE statement. Yes, we move with them but we must show ourselves, we are more than just a mom, more than just a spouse. We are capable of anything we put our mind to, we just have to believe!

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
My husband and I used to speak to other couples on base at our previous duty station sharing our story and being transparent so couples understand they’re not the only one going through those hard times. We had the pleasure of being the ambassadors/hosts the opening of each day for Military Marriage Day week 2021. And we also do lives of our date nights and just snippets of military marriage advice which really helps the community and those tuning in. I’ve watched too many couples go through divorce in my time as a military spouse and my goal is to create a gateway to saving their marriage before giving up completely. For empowering military spouses, I regularly speak on social media platforms and pod casts to share the importance of self love and mental health. I want people to see how I’m presenting myself in the community and say “If Juju can do it, I can too!” I was born to love and inspire those around me and I feel like I’m serving my purpose daily.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
One thing I’d love to accomplish if give the title of Military Spouse of the Year is to bring bring awareness to what military marriages face. Currently I speak to my community consistently about issues military marriages go through. I was featured on Hearts & Stripes podcast multiple times and my husband and I were the ambassadors for Military Marriage Day Week. My goal is to create a gateway and better resources for our military couples to save their marriage before throwing in the towel. I believe the strength of a military family starts with the active duty member and spouse so if it’s broken in top imagine how quickly it will fall. With advocating for this platform we would be able to strength so many marriages who need it while creating a lasting foundation. In addition, I’d also love to highlight more spouses in the military community. Capturing how military spouses are giving back and representing each branch more frequently.

Nominations

I nominate Juvilyn for Military Spouse of the Year. She is married to a Marine who just did a grueling tour in San Diego as a Drill instructor. Juvilyn has a passion for helping people that she crosses paths with. She is actively involved in events on base and building morale with the other military spouses on base. She openly offers marriage and mental health tips to encourage others to know they are not alone. She has teamed up with other military spouses to talk through the struggles of being a military spouse. There was a situation where a Marine in her husband’s company suffered a heart attack that left him in a coma for a few weeks. He was married with two children, one who was only a few weeks old. Juvilyn immediately stepped in to rally emotional, financial and logistical support to the Marines family. Thankfully, the Marine woke up from the coma and is on the road to recovery. Juvilyn thoroughly enjoys helping spouses (esp. new ones) navigate through military life
- by Marissa Bouchard

Juvilyn Garcia is my wife but man does this community know her! She thought it would be difficult to get herself out in the community in the midst of a new duty station but since moving here she’s fully emerged into this base, making others who’ve been here for awhile and those newly arriving feel welcomed. She continues to build on her platform of strong military marriages with her advice and experience and if you ask anyone, her aura could literally light up a whole room. Her energy makes spouses feel like this duty station is truly a home and she creates an environment that makes everyone want to be around it. Couldn’t think of another spouse who brings sunshine to those they meet like she does. She truly deserves another year of this amazing recognition and I’m so honored to stand beside her and call her my wife.
- by Martin-Miguel Garcia

I first met Juvilyn through the AFI MSOY program. I absolutely love her energy and passion for helping other military spouses and families. Her and her husband are definitely a great team and role model for military marriages. I love her positive outlook on everything. That is definitely needed in this military adventure! Although I have not met her in person, I feel like I've known her forever. I am proud to nominate Juvilyn for the 2022 AFI MSOY program and believe she would be a phenomenol representative for all military spouses.
- by Elizabeth Castro