Branch: Marine Corps
Duty Station: Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island
Number of Deployments: 0
Number of PCS's: 3
Share your military spouse story:
My military spouse story does not start off in a usual way. I did not marry a Marine; I married a man who worked Offshore in the Oilfield. After a few years of a 28 days offshore, 14 days home schedule, my husband took the plunge to go back to school fulltime and prior to graduation, made the decision to pursue a career in the Marine Corps. A week before Officer Candidates School graduation, my four-year-old, my mom, and my mother-in-law, loaded our vehicle and followed my grandparents hauling a trailer of our household goods from the Florida Panhandle to Virginia: my military spouse story starts here. From fellow spouses that I met while my husband was going through The Basic School (TBS) who were going through the same transition, to spouses of leadership offering advice and guidance- it was impressed upon me what a gift this community is. The friendship and support I found during those six months laid the foundation for which drives me to volunteer and give back to this amazing community. After TBS, our family PCS’d to Camp Kinser in Okinawa, Japan where I found a new form of community: a community that became family away from family during the birth of our second child and through the pandemic. Okinawa opened doors and provided the opportunity to volunteer within my spouse’s battalion, our local spouses’ club, and something for me: kickball! From there we’ve made it to our current chapter: a Drill Field family aboard MCRD Parris Island. In true military life fashion, we welcomed our youngest child two weeks into my husband’s first cycle and our Non-Temporary Storage was delivered while we were at the hospital. Semper Gumby, y’all!
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have been very fortunate to have held positions on general and executive boards in spouses' clubs and to coach a spouses’ kickball team. At Parris Island, I have had the opportunity to help build the Family Readiness Program within 4th Recruit Training Battalion. Historically, 4th RTBn has been all-female until the recent integration of male and female recruits at company level. My husband’s second cycle, his company integrated and there were now other spouses and families! I became more involved by becoming the Oscar Company Family Readiness Assistant (FRA) and then our Battalion’s Command Team Advisor (CTA). As Oscar Co FRA, I organized support events for the Drill Instructors and their families and increased communication with spouses. As CTA, I assist in planning and hosting events throughout the year for our Marines and their families- including a Children’s Marine Corps Ball open to the Tri-Command area to share such a special tradition with our youngest family members.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have always tried to plug into each location we’ve called home no matter the timeframe. During TBS, my husband’s company commander and his wife, Amanda, would host luncheons for the spouses to connect and these luncheons showed me how incredible having a support network of people going through a similar chapter of life can be. You feel less alone, you feel seen. This example has stuck with me, and it’s become near and dear to my heart to get involved in our local military community whether it be a spouse club, volunteering within the unit, or opening my breakfast table for spouses to come hang out and chat- there’s a seat for everyone.
Describe how you support your community:
I support my community by doing my best to be present. Sometimes that looks like me showing up with a baby on my back and a toddler in tow to drop coffee and muffins to the Marines during training events, and sometimes it looks like creating flyers and sending emails to share information of upcoming base and local community events with the spouses. I believe in leading by example and modeling for my children a heart for servitude. Supporting individuals through fellowship and building community is very important to me.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for spouses and families to feel seen and valued. I advocate for resources and programs to be shared with families and to have access to spouses within the unit able to help find these resources when in need. Overseas there is so much emphasis on community events and building connections due to being so far from ‘home’, but I do not believe stateside bases should be any different. It’s easy for spouses and families to feel overlooked and unseen, a supportive community can set the tone for a family for the whole tour. Our military members are given extraordinary tasks, and while their focus is the mission, they should feel confident that their families are well taken care of.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I make an effort to attend unit and base events in order to meet people in person as well as organize coffee hang outs and playdates. I am active on social media and have both created and administrated different groups to connect people within the duty station and to effectively pass communication. The past few years I’ve become very fond of creating colorful flyers to send electronically to be more attention grabbing and memorable.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
As AFI Military Spouse of the Year, I hope to inspire others to plug into their local communities. To invest in the relationships afforded by this life, to lean into the wealth of advice from those who have been there, and to walk confidently in there’s a listening ear during the tough times and a village to cheer you on through the celebrations. I want to encourage everyone to get involved in their local community, there’s something for everyone and friendships you don’t even know that are waiting.
After getting to know Amanda better these last few months I see all that she has accomplished and done for her military community. Amanda has worked hard to bring a new and exciting SubClub idea to the small Parris Island Spouses Club. She has helped show me ideas of her past club experiences and willing to answer all my questions as I learn. She will not turn down a good planning event and steps up to help without question. I have heard of how involved she was at her previous duty station as well. Amanda is a huge part of her 4th battalion Family Readiness, as the Command Team Advisor. Amanda has worked hard to build up a family readiness program to a newly integrated (men and female) platoon in fourth battalion where spouses and families were once scarce. I love her idea of a turnover binder for future use and that she wants to create something for Family readiness assistants to carry on. Amanda also is a phenomenal mother, wife, kickball player, and volunteer. Amanda IS deserving.
- by Marisol Jimenez