Duty Station: Fort Campbell
Number of Deployments: 0
Number of PCS's: 1
Share your military spouse story:
My husband and I first met in high school, where we played on the tennis team together. After losing my mom shortly after, I knew I would never get married and would proudly take on the title of the “Cool Aunt” who was a lifelong bachelorette; I would never risk losing someone so close to me again. I lived with this mentality for several years. After my now husband graduated Airborne School, we reconnected. The timing wasn’t right for us then, though. I was still stuck on the “I’m never getting married” thing and we were about to be thousands of miles and several time zones apart. He was on his way to Italy, and I was returning to college in Texas. Fast forward a couple more years, and we reconnected again – before another PCS! I guess you could say fate - and military orders! - brought us together. At that time, my now husband was between duty stations and reached out to me about visiting Boston (where I was) and going to a Red Sox game together during his PCS leave. The initial outreach was meant for us to just go to a game as friends, but we instantly clicked. While it took him some time to break through my numerous walls, as he says, he finally convinced me to give up the “I’m never getting married mentality.” At first, I was hesitant to leave my life (and salaried job) in Boston and move to be with my now husband. I was working at an academic medical center where careers came first and families much later. Despite the pushback and words of doubt, however, we took the leap of faith, got engaged and married, and started a life together here in Tennessee. We now have 2 rescue dogs and friends all over the world. While this life has been tough at times, experiencing many losses over the years of his service, we focus on being grateful and utilizing our strengths and passions to lift others up through our careers and volunteerism.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
When you look up responsibilities of a leader, they include motivating, serving as the expert, and listening. In these ways, I believe I am a leader as a military spouse business owner. Through this platform, I am able to inspire and educate military spouses on their wellness, especially when it comes to nutrition. I listen to the needs of my community in order to try to fill gaps. The best example of this is that when I finally moved to meet my husband at our current duty station (which I was delaying in hopes I could find a job first), there were no jobs within a 30 minute drive fitting my credentials. At first, I was discouraged that I had left my salaried position for the infamous military spouse unemployment, but I quickly was able to reframe and see that there weren’t jobs because there weren’t resources. I wanted to become the local dietitian that could be seen off post because food plays a huge role in our daily lives, and nutrition affects our mental and physical health.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I am currently involved through several military organizations, including InDependent, the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE), and Military Special Operations Family Collaborative (MSOF). At InDependent, a military spouse wellness community, I volunteer as the Operations Assistant, where I work directly under the Operations Chair to help enhance the volunteer experience and bring wellness to the military spouse community. I serve as a coach and nutrition expert for AMSE, an organization that supports military spouse entrepreneurs. It is amazing how many business owners - myself included - put nutrition on the backburner when pursuing their career goals! MSOF enables the success of SOF Warriors and Families through collaborative health and well-being research and programs. Through my role at MSOF, I contribute my knowledge of nutrition and wellness in order to develop content that specifically addresses the needs of the special operations community.
Describe how you support your community:
I believe in supporting the military spouse community, which I do on a daily basis by engaging in social media posts of individuals asking for help and connecting them to resources. I have an immense passion for being the link between a person and a resource - whether that’s another person, program, or organization. Furthermore, as a business owner, I operate a Facebook group with about 650 members. Each month, I bring in a guest expert from another field, and I always reach out to the military community first. Examples of guests I’ve had in my group include an active duty Army officer, an Air Force veteran, and spouses of several active duty servicemembers. I am a firm believer in collaboration and in lifting others up.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for military spouses to be their own healthcare advocates. In 2010, I held my mom as she took her last breath. Eleven days before, she was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine cancer. That wasn’t the worst part; the worst part was that the oncologist said the cancer had been growing for up to 3 years but her obesity prevented a prompt diagnosis. Any time my mom sought care for a problem, they dismissed it as, “You’re just too fat” or ‘Just lose weight.” They failed to listen but, admittedly, we failed to push because we didn’t know any better. In a lifestyle where we are frequently moving, it is hard to establish continuity of care with one provider - whether you leave or they do. I advocate for individuals to speak up when something doesn’t feel right and to keep pushing for answers. My mom had numerous signs of uterine cancer well before the diagnosis, but we didn’t know enough to question the care she was receiving. I am a firm advocate for taking our health into our own hands.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I advocate for the health and wellbeing of military spouses through several platforms, including social media, podcasts, and blogs. To be honest, I never enjoyed Facebook, but I found that there is a large military spouse audience there looking for answers. Rather than avoid it, I use it to educate followers and to build a community around nutrition and health. I also spread this message through Instagram and LinkedIn. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to be a guest on several podcasts, including Moments with an MEO (for military spouse entrepreneurs) and Call to Marriage, and to be featured on several blogs, including Milspouse Fest and It’s a Military Life. I also contributed to the December workbook for InDependent, which was all about breaking the rules, and will be serving as the nutrition expert for the upcoming InDependent Wellness Summit.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I have been blessed with opportunities to volunteer within the military spouse community, but having this title would amplify my ability to advocate for military spouse wellness. If selected as Military Spouse of the Year, I hope to further connect others with resources that enhance their wellness - whether that be their physical, mental, financial, emotional or spiritual wellness. I have seen how MSOY opens networks and connects spouses across branches and seasons of life, and I am eager to expand upon that legacy and be the bridge between people and organizations. I truly wouldn’t be where I am without the network I have built through organizations like InDependent, AMSE and MSOF. I would be humbled and honored to utilize the MSOY title to give back to new spouses and pass on the knowledge I have learned so far.
Mary-Catherine and I started to volunteer together at InDependent over the past year. She has a passion for streamlining business processes, which our organization needed desperately as we grow. Mary-Catherine comes up with solutions to problems that empower our leaders and volunteers to accomplish necessary tasks in the most efficient way possible. This is something no nonprofit would ever take for granted.
She also encourages team members when they need, and celebrates with them when something good happens. Mary-Catherine is a fantastic team mate and I'm honored to work alongside her as we make wellness accessible for military spouses.
- by Evie King