Branch: Coast Guard
Duty Station: Coast Guard District 7
Number of Deployments: 18
Number of PCS's: 6
Share your military spouse story:
I became a military spouse during my husband's mid tour leave from Alaska Loran Station Port Clearance. He was home for 30 days and we decided to get married, just the two of us. I wasn't sure what the future was going to hold but it has been simply beautiful. I am a Coast Guard spouse that is proud and thankful everyday for her husbands career. I have taken the best of every situation and made it amazing for our family. We have been at one isolated station, two cutters, three stations. I have been very lucky to have the family support system. My husband and I both come from larger families. Thankfully, my sisters have always stepped in when we needed them to. Coming to help with new babies, house moves, and anything else we needed. With the development and growth of the social media, I have always found it easy to find a Spouse Page or local page to connect with others quick. I have grown into a strong, independent Coast Guard spouse after enduring the variety of stations and cutters over the years. I have had the chance and opportunity to travel to many places in the country due to Coast Guard events. Most notable was Petaluma, California for CPOA Formal Dinner event.. That was an evening that will be with me for my whole life.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I volunteered to be the Ombudsman for the Cutter Bear. This was summer of 2013 to 2016. During that time I worked closely with two captains of the ship to convey information between the cutter and the families. Upholding OPSEC was the most important thing to making sure the patrols were a success. I would host parties for the families, organize small activities (beach, park, museums) with the kids. We held a Super Bowl party at our house and I was the first to welcome new spouses and families joining the cutter. We had so many good times making sure the families still felt connected even with their spouses and hometown families being out of arms reach. I grew up in a small town in Eastern Kentucky where family Sunday dinners were a must and birthday parties were celebrated mostly with your cousins. I tried my best to have the same approach with the ombudsman role. I wanted everyone to feel like they had a place to go for Sunday dinner.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
The most involved I felt I become with the Coast Guard was during the government shutdown of 2019. Quickly jumped in to help families in need with baby supplies, paper goods, food, donated fuel cards to Coast Guard families. We lived in a rural area of North Carolina that required a long distance to travel for groceries and goods. My family and I organized a drive to collect large quantities of goods from toilet paper to shampoo to make sure those at my husbands unit could have some of the burden lifted off of them. It was extremely successful during that uncertain time.
Describe how you support your community:
With Coast Guard PCS's being part of our normal life every three to four years, I have made it a personal goal to always be involved with our kids' schools. Currently, we live in Viera, FL. The covid pandemic hit about 7 months after we relocated so I took the initiative to really get involved with the Sea Turtle Conversation Society. I have assisted with the annual 5K and other charity events. I also have been appointed on the committee for our son's Project Graduation, a derivative of M.A.D.D. We have hosted a few events for the Class of 2022, including a senior sunrise and Christmas hot chocolate treat. We have other events planned for the seniors as the year progresses.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I am a huge advocate for living drug free. I wish for a world that isn't dependent on chemicals in the capacity we are now as a society. Both of my parents were addicted to prescription pain medicine and eventually died from the dependency. I do my best to educate my children, nieces, nephews and as many young people as I can about the seriousness of their actions if choosing to partake in drugs. I have seen first hand what can be taken from you if that is the path you choose. I have found many ways to relate those choices to real life scenarios for our children. I lead by example of having integrity in everyday life.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Social media has been a blessing. I have had the opportunity to coach hundreds of children over the years in tumbling. I have a strong presence on social media and many of those students have continued to stay connected over the years via social media. It is always nice to hear those reach out to say how my words impacted their life. They will tell me that they made certain choices over the years based on my passion regarding the topic of living a drug free life.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I would hold the position with pride and integrity. I know there are adjustments and challenges that come along with the Coast Guard life. I would be a good sounding board to take the lead in directing those that need some advice as they adjust into the military lifestyle. We are a unique breed and afforded many amazing opportunities. I would use the title to continue to spread the mission of living drug free to others and wear a large smile on my face to show others everything will be okay.
My mother has been a Coast Guard spouse for almost 18 years. She has used her role as a spouse to better other military families. Each unit my father has been assigned to she has always had a positive attitude about it and volunteers her time any way she could. My favorite position she held was Ombudsman for the Cutter Bear. She would invite families to our home while the cutter was deployed. She would host parties and get togethers for the families. She always made sure the new spouses felt welcome and like they have a place to go. She would keep families informed of dates and information passed along from the captain. My mother would lead by example with kindness.
Most recently, she created a drive for Afghanistan refugees from Kabul. She sent hundreds of dollars in donated supplies (hygienic and personal) to multiple bases and shelters in many states. Our mother always strives to show her appreciation of the service by giving to others, with a smile on her face.
- by Kala Carter