Duty Station: Fort Bragg
Number of Deployments: 4
Number of PCS's: 2
Share your military spouse story:
I’ve been a military spouse since 2010, and proudly so. Over the years, I’ve made it a priority to stand up for the needs of military families by engaging conversations with members of Congress, speaking candidly about the reducing the stigma around mental health for military spouses, and serving our local community by founding a charity that supports pediatric playrooms. I’m an advocate for better mental health support for our military spouses, and fiercely believe in the importance of prioritizing hiring military spouses, as well as speaking up about issues affecting military families. My biggest passion, The Little Playroom Foundation, is my heart and soul project, rooted in the Fort Bragg community. We have two children with health issues who have benefitted from the care of a Child Life Specialist and the pediatric playroom at our local hospital. It is my hope to continue spreading awareness, and growing that mission, to support other hospitals nationwide, and particularly who serve military communities like Fort Bragg.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I’ve been an FRG volunteer for many years, having served as a committee member, Vice President, and president. I now currently serve as the registrar for Cape Fear Youth Hockey Association, which operates on Fort Bragg and offers affordable youth ice hockey for military families. Additionally, I’m the executive director and founder of The Little Playroom Foundation which serves local hospitals in the Fort Bragg area.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I’ve been a volunteer in some capacity since I became a military spouse. From volunteering with FRGs, to being a member of the USASOC SPEAR committee, to sitting on panels for various spouse events and organizations. I continue to volunteer currently as a board member for Cape Fear Youth Hockey on Fort Bragg, and through my charity The Little Playroom Foundation.
Describe how you support your community:
I support my community through volunteerism, which has always been a passion of mine ever since I was a young child. I enjoy being service-driven, and find that the world is a better place when volunteers help run it. Through working as a volunteer for FRGs, committees, youth sports, and more, I’ve donated hundreds of hours to supporting our community and will continue to do so for many years to come!
What do you advocate for? Why?
My biggest advocacy is supporting families who have children in the hospital, and bringing awareness to the incredible support they can receive from Child Life Specialists and pediatric playrooms. As a mom of two children with special medical needs, we have first handedly witnessed the benefit of these services, which make hospital stays more comfortable, and less stressful for families and children. Through my organization, The Little Playroom Foundation, we work to support these services and spread awareness about how special, needed, and resourceful they are!
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I post often and openly on social media both about having children with medical needs and how Child Life and pediatric playrooms have benefitted our family. On social media for The Little Playroom Foundation, I often share resources, articles, and information about what Child Life is, what pediatric playrooms mean to patients, and how you can support their missions. I’ve also spoken candidly with Representative Richard Hudson about why these programs need more attention and funding, and how military families especially can benefit from them during times of need.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
My hope, with the title of Military Spouse of the Year, would be to use the platform to focus on continued awareness of Child Life and pediatric playrooms, and hopefully open the discussion about how these types of programs and support would particularly benefit the military community and how we can bring or grow them within military treatment facilities. My goal is to show a new facet in the diamond of supporting military families, especially those who experience hospital stays or health challenges.
I am nominating Val because she has been a strong advocate for military families and local families in her community. She has worked with Congressman Hudson several times on issues impacting military families, and she started a non profit to help children's pediatric hospital playrooms be filled year around and especially at Christmas as her family has a child with medical needs requiring hospitalizations and she saw the need. She also speaks openly about reducing the stigma for seeking mental health support. She would be a wonderful addition to the MSOY family.
- by Richelle Futch