Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
Number of Deployments: 0
Number of PCS's: 1
Share your military spouse story:
I met my now husband in 2018, when we met through our mutual friends, he was stationed at Travis Air Force Base in California and I was attending the University of Washington and working for the Army Corps of Engineers. There were countless solo 12-hour drives between our two homes between balancing 72 hr work weeks and time spent finishing my degree. By the end of 2019, my husband had an assignment to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson Alaska. We took the leap and got married, months later, COVID-19 hit our communities. My college classes were moved online, my job was no longer my job, and we were meant to leave for Alaska in March. It turned into a moment of, what’s next and when. February of 2020 my husband was told his orders were on hold indefinitely and we would have a couple of months’ notice of when we would be moving. With that news, I packed up my small sedan with our 90 pound dog and our young cat as well as the few items I could fit that we’re myself and our pets and made the 12 hour drive to California. We lived in this limbo of finishing my degree online and being too careful to not unpack a lot of our things so that we wouldn’t have to re pack everything. I officially obtained my degree in Urban Studies from UW in June of 2020 and sat curled up on our couch as we watched my little picture scroll across the screen. Life went on as it had, in a state of purgatory until July 10th 2020. My husband was told he needed to be at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson by July 16th we had 5 days to get our move planned and executed. For my husband this was his first move with the military since joining in November of 2016 and I can fully say, we had no idea what we were doing. We made do with what we had, our home goods were packed up and shipped two days after we had left the state and we started our life in Alaska without a car, any furniture, and a 14 day quarantine. I would never recommend trying to escape the mid-night sun without black out curtains.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have been fortunate enough to be a resource for Active Duty military, their families as well as Veterans. Something I am most proud of is working with service members who are completing their Skill Bridge and chose the Red Cross as their internship. I am able to lead these individuals to the resources and tools they desire to move into their next chapter in life. Even for those who do not know what they want to do, being able to be there to encourage them and guide them.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I am employed by the Red Cross of Alaska, working for the Service to the Armed Forces and International Services division. Outside of my regular work duties I use my time to fill in for many of our volunteer roles, such as following up for families and service members who have had to unfortunately utilize Emergency Communication Messages, providing military families with resources in Alaska and worldwide, and coordinating our Youth Action Counsel that promotes international humanitarian law for youths. Outside of these volunteer projects I have found myself volunteering with the VA as well as completing the training to become a Key Spouse for my husband’s squadron.
Describe how you support your community:
I get to support my community through a number of ways. When I receive contact information for a family member of a service member who is gearing up to deploy, I get the opportunity to reach out to them and provide my information to be a resource while their service member is deployed. I also get to offer volunteer resources to service members and their families to help get involved with their community it is a way to help those individuals who are new to an area find a community and be able to build a passion.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for volunteer, internship, and education opportunities for military spouses. Many individuals struggle to recognize their true potential. Many spouses cannot see past their time spent acting in the role of a single parent while their service member is deployed or the opportunities they were unable to take advantage of due to moving. Advocating for way for spouses to gain hard and soft skills and know their experience managing a home or being adaptable to moving countless times is desirable are they are an important asset to the work force.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
When being a military spouse there are a lot of resources thrown at you, many spouses find themselves utilizing social media groups to easily obtain the information they are looking for. Being able to reach out to these spouses who have questions about employment, volunteering or internships has been a big win for advocacy. Although we have unfortunately not been able to hold any briefings due to COVID, they are on the docket to be given and be able to reach spouses at newcomer events as well as other spouse events. This is one of the key reasons for pursing the training to becoming a Key Spouse.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I hope to accomplish the ability to spread awareness to the opportunities out there for military spouses. To help spouses grow their worth and feel confident in their skills. I want to be the resource I wish I had when I was struggling to realize who I was.
I have worked with Kendal in the local community helping her efforts as a Service to the Armed Forces and International Services volunteer with the American Red Cross. She has been and continues to make a big difference in the military and local community.
- by Dave Mendez