Branch: Coast Guard
Duty Station: Coast Guard District 7
Number of Deployments: 20
Number of PCS's: 6
Share your military spouse story:
My military spouse story didn't start like most others. I was active duty military in the Navy stationed in Pensacola, FL. While on base one day I saw my (now husband) and instantly felt a connection. The rest is history. I went on to be stationed in Everett Washington on the USS Abraham Lincoln, welcomed our first child, and lived on the other side of the country for close to two years. When I left the Navy and became a military spouse fully I felt like I lost my purpose. I loved the feeling of serving something better than myself. That's when I became involved in our military community. I started by volunteering to be an Ombudsman, the problem with the Coast Guard is the branch is small and a lot of times have roles left empty. What went from being the Ombudsman for one unit turned into being the Ombudsman for four units at the same time in D9. While challenging I felt like I was finding my purpose again in life, to serve those who walk this life alongside me. The years came and went, I continued to serve as an ombudsman to multiple units after that, be the Vice President and President of the local spouses club, oversee one of the largest food banks in Coast Guard history during the government shutdown and so much more. While this journey is starting to come to a close, I can look back on all of our life's adventures and know I gave it my all to leave the path behind me much easier for other spouses to navigate.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Throughout my time as a Coast Guard spouse I have had the opportunity to lead in multiple ways. I have been an ombudsman 4 different times for a total of 9 units. I have also had the opportunity to serve as the Vice President and President of the East Bay USCG Spouses Club. While stationed in California i was a chair-member on the housing committee, we would advocate for military spouses who lived in Coast Guard housing, challenges, safety issues and improvements were some of the main topics that we would advocate for in our Coast Guard community. I also have worked closely with local community leaders to help improve the connections of the community and Coast Guard families, working with the Mayor or Alameda we were able to tackle the Government Shutdown and establish the worth of Coast Guard families within the community.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have been involved in the military community since day one. Being a military spouse that transitioned from an active duty military member opened a lot of doors for me in terms of understanding the needs from both sides. I would then advocate not only for what spouses and families may need but also what our service members may need. Today I continue my support for our local military community. I spearhead homecoming celebrations for the CGC Vigilant crew and families, work cohesively with the morale committee on planning events for the ship and the base including Easter egg hunts, trunk or treat, and more. I also work directly with the USO in support opportunities for our Coast Guard families, organize sign-making parties, Halloween giveaways when the ship is gone and so much more.
Describe how you support your community:
I support my community by making connections to highlight the special characteristics of a military family and the struggles that we face at times. My latest mission has been working with my company on bridging the gap in military spouses and veterans' resumes that may have employment gaps. Showcasing that an employment gap speaks differently on military spouse and veteran resumes as they may not have been voluntary. I continue to advocate for military spouses furthering their education, by assisting new spouses with navigating the GI Bill process and additional forms I can help them potentially continue their career in a forward direction.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for the military spouse that feels lost in this life. There is so much to navigate as a new military spouse and while there are many resources out there you may not be aware of them. Advocating for more one-on-one support for our military spouses who are struggling is my number one priority. It is ok to say I feel lost or confused, even the most seasoned spouses at times have those moments of confusion. Establishing the tools for military spouses to continue on the right foot forward is what I want to highlight at all times. Getting a degree, furthering their job potential, and building themselves up in the most positive way to better their future. This can be done by building military spouse scholarships in our local military community, establishing points of contact in the community, and more.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Having a degree in marketing has opened so many doors in the media world. I was able to utilize these points of contact during the Government Shutdown. I was able to speak on behalf of the Coast Guard community on news outlets, such as CNN, NBC Nightly News, Local TV channels, MRN radio, and more. Throughout the last two years, I have also helped establish local Facebook channels, build-out email communications, flyers for the local commands, and more. Being able to speak on behalf of military spouses is a passion of mine, from local state representatives to the media, our message is meant to be spread positively.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
With the AFI Military Spouse Of The Year Title, I hope to continue to spread the spotlight on military spouses worldwide. One military spouse alone can make a ripple, however, multiple military spouses together can make a wave. Empowering military spouses to know their worth, take action and make changes is my overall goal.
There are multiple reasons I feel that Nicole deserves this award. But the number one reason is how tenacious she is when it comes to building up all spouses in our small Coast Guard area.
Nicole always goes above and beyond what would be expected of a “spouse”. Even while working a full time job as a Marketing executive, Nicole carves time out of her busy schedule to ensure that local spouses are surrounded by a supportive community, planning and preparing for ships homecoming by working cohesively with the morale committee and command to arrange food trucks, uso show case etc. Nicole even offers up herself and our home to hosting sign making parties, tea gatherings, support groups and much more.
While in her position at work, Nicole, has become an advocate for hiring military spouses. She is frequently brought in for consultation on military spouse resumes, building local community connections and highlighting active duty and veteran members in multiple company giveaways.
- by Clark Lauer