Duty Station: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
Number of Deployments: 4
Number of PCS's: 7
Share your military spouse story:
When my husband first joined the Navy in 2007 we were thrilled with the prospect of our new adventure with our little girls! Little did I know, the following two years would be the most lonely and isolating experience of my life thus far. I had no support, connection, and had no idea what the Navy was about or of any resources for me. When my husband commissioned two years later, I vowed to flip that script for myself and others coming alongside and behind me. I began to invest my time heavily in all command resiliency teams, and began volunteering at NMCRS. That initial experience served as the foundation for all I have done since, and has helped me to be able to function during the three difficult deployments that followed the first, back when I had no support or guidance. With each consequent duty station, from Seabees to Overseas, to Marines, and now a Joint environment; I have built upon my skills and utilized my experiences to promote resilience and growth in myself and other spouses as well. Being transparent with others about my own experiences and challenges (giving birth to our third child while my spouse was somewhere out there in Afghanistan, or dealing with the demoralizing job prospects on my base); this has helped me to be a credible and trusted resource for my fellow spouses. I do not take for granted my experiences, both good and bad- but I also acknowledge that it is ok to not be ok sometimes.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have been part of many command resiliency teams, have been part of the leadership board for two NMCRS offices, and have been a housing advocate for military families. I have served in numerous roles for the religious ministries department on base including VBS Director and co-facilitator for a deployed ministry at the base chapel.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I am a work and family life consultant for the military community through military and Family Support Center, providing Relocation, Emergency, and Deployment support, facilitation, and resources. I spent 8 years doing casework and other roles for NMCRS, with over 2000 volunteer hours devoted to the society to help Sailors and Marines. My first goal upon arrival to any new duty station is to dive in and connect with the community as much as possible, whether through command involvement (such as making hundreds of cookies to give to single Sailors, or making beds for Marines returning from deployment).
Describe how you support your community:
I support my community by being as knowledgeable as possible about local, base, and regional resources- this is critical as many (like myself when we first joined) have no idea what is out there to help them. I also feel like it is important to provide hope to the military community, whether it is in a briefing that I facilitate onboard a ship, or to a spouse who is struggling with small children at home and a limited income. Being educated and empathetic have been foundational in my support for the community.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for military spouse employment, financial education, mental health, and military resiliency. Each of these areas has had a profound impact on my personal life, and the more I engage with the community- I realize that they affect most of them too. I have struggled with food insecurity as a military spouse and never want anyone to experience what I did- this has made me passionate about financial education. Being part of combat communities has given me on the spot, real time experience with mental health stigma and opportunities which has been so critical in how I engage and what I am interested in being more educated in. Military resiliency is an opportunity to educate people on tools and skills so they can bounce forward during times of stress. Military spouse employment I could write about for weeks- it is so demoralizing to be called something like “dependa” when giving your best years and career building time to follow a spouse. I want to change that.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Through my work and volunteer engagements. Through social media, private messaging, and trusted counsel.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
Empower military spouses, children, and service personnel to be able to thrive and succeed in their current state and position. Provide more tools and resources to that community, bringing awareness to glaring issues like food insecurity and financial distress due to inability to find meaningful employment. Help to be part of the movement to remove stigma from mental health seekers.
Katherine is the military spouse we all should strive to be. We met 10 years ago while our husbands served with the Navy Seabees and became friends because of our common desire to help others. As a spouse of a chaplain, Katie is always the first to lend a hand, support the command, and advocate for other spouses. She, her husband, and their four children have faced several intense deployments with compassion, grace, and determination. During each deployment and new duty station, Katie has served with distinction in her community. While working at Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, installation libraries, Fleet and Family, and now as the Work and Family Life Consultant for a Family Support Center, Katie is a light of hope to all she meets. Katie's hospitality and sense of humor put military families at ease and make them feel supported. She is working toward a Masters in Social Work to better serve her military community as well. Katie truly embodies the character of MSOY every day.
- by Angela Joy Litteral