Duty Station: Naval Air Station North Island
Number of Deployments: 4
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
I never wanted to be a military spouse. Growing up in Colorado, I didn't know much about military life, but didn't think it would be for me. So when I started dating this cute guy in the Navy, it took me by surprise. Shortly after we started dating, he informed me he would likely be deployed to Iraq and I told him we should end the relationship at that time. I didn't think I could handle it. In true military fashion, he called me the next day to tell me not only was he deploying, but he was leaving in TWO days. Needless to say, he called my bluff and luckily I stuck around. Fourteen years later, we have gotten married, undergone 4 deployments (with 3 more scheduled over the next 2.5 years), 4 PCS's (all OCONUS) with another OCONUS in the next 6 months, and countless memories. We have one daughter with another on the way and a cat who adopted us when we were stationed in Hawaii. It turns out that I LOVE being a military spouse. I am so proud to be in this elite group of people who sacrifice tirelessly, seek to elevate others, and find creative ways to follow their dreams while managing everything at home. The military life has afforded me the priviledge of living in multiple locations, such as San Diego, Hawaii, Portugal, and Japan. It has blessed me with the most wonderful friendships and "framily" that truly make this lifestyle unique, and given me so many opportunities to learn and grow. Without this experience, I would not know my own strength and my own resilience. One of my claims to fame was when my husband deployed shortly after a PCS and when our household goods were delivered, I realized I needed a bed frame in order to sleep that night. So I went to Home Depot and made one myself...used the drill and everything. I never knew I could do something like that. I truly think military spouses are the most incredible people on the planet and I feel lucky to be among them.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have had the pleasure and honor of serving in various leadership positions of Naval Officer's Spouse Club's throughout the past 13 years. I served as Treasurer and Secretary for the OSC group in MCBH Kaneohe Bay. Most recently, I served as the US Representative for Spouses International Group (SIG), associated with NATO Lisbon. In this position, I was able to represent US military spouse interests on an international stage. In addition, I have offered to be a Spouse Mentor associated with Naval Leadership and Ethics Center's Spouse Course. I also serve on the board of Continuum of Resources and Education (CORE) a volunter spouse-led Naval Services FamilyLine program, which offers educational opportunities for military spouses. Lastly, I look forward to stepping into the role of CO's Spouse when we move to Japan and help create and shape an environment of support and and confident perserverence.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have worked as a military psycholgoist for a majority of my life. Ensuring the healthy mental health of military servicemembers and their families is so important in leading effective missions and maintaining a constant state of readiness. This led to several amazing opportunities. Most notably, I was involved with OASIS (Overcoming Adversity and Stress Injury Support), a residential program dedicated to active duty service members who have been diagnosed with PTSD sustained while in active duty service. This led to the partnership with several other organizations, including the Wounded Warrior Project and the Warrior Surf Foundation. Being able to witness brave servicemembers returning back to life and things they love will without a doubt be the most rewarding experience of my life. Helping someone find purpose and value again is absolutely priceless.
Describe how you support your community:
My desire to serve the military spouse community grew in 2021 when I launched the Married to Military podcast. The weekly podcast is dedicated to helping improve the lives and marriages of military spouses, using my background as a psychologist and seasoned spouse. Being a military spouse comes with significant sacrifice and dedication and I wanted to create an accessible place for military spouses to be able to access quality information. The response has been so positive, that this expanted into a military marriage coaching organization, focusing on supporting and strengthening military marriages. I also provide free weekly live trainings, regular content with tips and tricks, and constant Q&A's to ensure all military spouses are informed and supported. Lastly, I am constantly volunteering as an expert guest speaker at regular events throughout the country, including a recent event for the Ohana Homefront Foundation and CORE San Diego, focusing on education and supporting milspos.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I am a fierce advocate for military marriages. A marriage is the most important relationship in a person's life and the core relationship in a family. Despite the plethora of resources availble to military couples, several barriers and stigmas prevent military marriages from receiving the support and assistance they need. While the current culture in the military is speaking more to the importance of healthy marriages, I feel like it falls far short when it comes to the practice of actually encouraging the strengthening of military marriages. However, a solid partnership makes for more productive servicemembers, which makes missions more successsful. Healthy partnerships eliminate stress that can cause injury, lead to burnout, and so much more. In addition, the military lifestyle naturally puts a lot of strain on a marriage. For these reasons, I fiercely advocate for strong military marriages.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Working as a military psychologist, I realized that there were several barriers that continued to prevent military couples from having a healthy, stable marriage despite the resources available to them. In particular, difficulty arranging schedules together, stigmas associated with seeking help, and lack of awareness of available resources to name a few. I was feeling frustrated by these barriers and decided to take it into my own hands, with the creation of Married to Military. Along with the podcast and regular live social media trainings, I offer confidential marriage support on Zoom for military spouses, in order to eliminate scheduling challenges, childcare issues, and military related concerns. I have also partnered with Military Marriage Day events and Military Marriage Fest in which I have been a guest speaker in order to promote the importance of healthy military partnerships. Finally, I have led a three part marriage training series with Ohana Homefront Foundation.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
If I am selected as AFI MIlitary Spouse of the Year, I would seek to spread the word about the importance of healthy military marriages. I would seek to engage in more partnerships to be able to provide these services to military spouses in a way that is accessible, non-judgmental, and successful to all military families. I would like to create programs that become the foundation of military and are widely supported by DoD in order to better serve our servicemembers and in essence better serve the military. I feel that my purpose on this earth is to support others and elevate others and this would give me a wonderful platform from which to do that. That being said, I want to elevate other military spouses as well. I truly believe that military spouses are the most incredibly people on the planet with strength and skills that defies all odds. I want to seek to continue to elevate this group of people, who are often underappreciated, and look forward to more connectinos along the way.
I am nomitating my wife, Lindsay Cavanagh, for MSOY. She has dedicated her life to improving the lives and marriages of other military spouses through her podcast, Married to Military and her Married to Military Coaching Business, which she spearheaded. She recognizes the sacrifices that military spouses make, that often go unacknowledged, and she is working tirelessly to make things easier and happier for everyone else. Along with releasing a weekly podcast assisting military spouses in navigating this life as easily as possible, she also leads a weekly live facebook training, offers regular content on social media aimed at improving military sposue's lives, and consistently volunteers with various military spouse organizations and spouse clubs to unite, acknolwedge, and celebrate other military spouses. As a psychologist, there are several jobs she could take, and she is passionate about elevating the lives of fellow military spouses. She deserves this honor wholeheartedly.
- by Sean Cavanagh