Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Moody Air Force Base
Number of Deployments: 10
Number of PCS's: 5
Share your military spouse story:
My mother has always said, “the one thing you can’t take away is learning.” That has become my way of life. I have been a military spouse for 16 years, enduring what can only be explained to as a roller coaster full of hilly ups and downs, twists and turns and even a few upside-down loops. In the five PCS moves, I’ve been an active Key Spouse for 4 squadrons. I’ve seen births and deaths, financial struggles, promotions and demotions, deployments, TDY’s, and re-integrations. As I have matured as a spouse, I can still say that my love for this community is stronger than ever. My strong sense of work ethic has provided me with the opportunity to work for the DoD for 9 years, getting to deploy as a civilian to Afghanistan and work for Joint Task Force Paladin EOD Team, getting to work for the C-5 Depot Level Maintenance SPO where I obtained my Master Resiliency Trainer Certification and to also lead and teach a team how to manage logistical contracts for Supply Chain Management. Being a spouse to a young Airmen, through hindsight we could have made better financial choices. I’m blessed to be able to be a part of an organization now that does exactly that! I get to provide financial education and resources to make sure our Airmen and their families are ready for their futures. I get to meet annually with other defense credit unions to advocate for legislation and financial literacy. We are a village, all helping one another. Whether the other person is needing me to sit in the seat beside them or in the last cart cheering their success, I take pride in that I show people with my actions that I am there. I’ll be the one that finds the resources to fight the food insecurity they are having, teaching them the difference between a credit/debit card or being there to celebrate their new job. I value my position as an active spouse in my community to be able to teach and mentor any that I meet, living up to the motto “people helping people.”
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Over the past 16 years, I’ve been a Key Spouse for 4 squadrons, using this opportunity to become a Master Resiliency Trainer. Sharing the tools from the program to support Airmen, spouses, and the community through deployment cycles, work/life stressors, and more. I led a reintegration session for spouses affected by the Afghanistan withdrawal with the Personnel Recovery Task Force rescue group that was in Kabul. Through my job, I’ve had the opportunity to sit on the Kirtland Elementary School Community Council and provide mentorship on opportunities for increased community involvement, financial education for low-income families, and helping bridge gaps with other community partners. I am also a voting delegate for the Defense Credit Union Council representing all defense credit unions that support military installations of all branches; assisting to provide input on legislative issues that could affect military members and their families through the entire financial life cycle.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
In coordination with the local high school JROTC, I raised $370+ dollars’ worth of cookie dough, baked and packaged for the Dorm Christmas Cookie drive. We were able to provide a dozen cookies to each dorm resident across the installation. We are much larger than just the installations that we serve, volunteering in the community is also important. South Georgia Special Olympics allowed me to walk with the athletes and coaches at the opening ceremonies. Assisted with their Golf Teams, helping organize and hand out medals to the winners. Representing and leading the Moody Key Spouses, I assisted with United Way’s Day of Giving. Networking with other community leaders, while they were giving their time! I have been able to create Financial Education products to help military members and their families, helping bridge the gap of the M&FRC. Also, working on large projects for low-income designated communities and advocate for state and national legislative initiatives.
Describe how you support your community:
I have found in my 16 years of this wild ride, that my passion lies in mentoring and helping others. In coordination with our local First Command team, we have created a Facebook page for Women in Entrepreneurship to help them navigate running their own businesses. I facilitate a quarterly in-person meeting where spouses can come together to network and learn from each other. As the co-lead for Moody’s Hiring Our Heroes, we provide a free forum for professional development, community support, information sharing, and networking to address the unique challenges faced by career-minded Military Spouses. For Moody’s Key Spouse program, I facilitate monthly meetings for Key Spouses across the installation to meet with each other to discuss trends that they are seeing, discuss new opportunities, and how we can get that information out to our people. This is done outside of any M&FRC training.
What do you advocate for? Why?
-Financial Advocacy: Financial education among spouses is essential as sometimes they are the ones left managing the finances while the AD member is TDY or deployed. It is shown that military personnel has a significantly higher debt-to-asset ratio than civilians. -Employment: The largest annual study of military families found that spouse unemployment is the biggest stressor for service members and their partners. 43% percent of active-duty families surveyed said spousal unemployment is an issue. -Food Insecurities: As prices rise we are seeing that families are making choices between buying food or other essential items and being required to lean on food pantries (on/off base) and some instances requiring monetary support, including predatory lenders. -Mental Health: We do a great job of providing mental health opportunities for our AD members but research shows that spouses are getting left behind, especially during deployment cycles and extended TDYs.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I was invited as a representative of Moody AFB and the ACC Rescue community to meet with the 15th Air Force Command Chief. I advocated for the need for reintegration and mental health assistance for our spouses and families. I have the privilege of being invited annually to attend the DCUC conference and speak directly to the Defense Credit Union Council Chief Executive Officer, the NAFCU Chairman, and many other leaders that have direct access to legislative issues. I’ve had the honor to advocate for increased financial education for our youth and military families and speak on laws and standards that protect the military community. I participate as an active member of the Military Spouse Advocacy Network offering mentorship and resources that affect spouses daily as well as an active member of the Council for Military Spouse Clubs.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
Simply being nominated proves to me that I am making an impact within my community and at Moody AFB. Winning the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title would provide me with the opportunity to use this platform to continue to advocate not only at the state level but also be able to advocate on a national level. The ability to use the title and platform to meet with bipartisan legislative members, senior military leaders, and others, on and off, Capital Hill would be optimal in helping identify the issues and promote the need for change. It would be my mission to seek all opportunities to advocate for change and spread awareness of the serious issues that are felt at all levels of military life. I would be proud to be the voice of the military spouse and of the incoming military families. I take great pride in the services I’m already able to provide, however, having the title would provide the scope and opportunities for a stronger voice!
April is a dedicated Key Spouse who works effortlessly for the betterment of the military spouse community. She is extremely resourceful and supportive of those within her sphere of influence. Furthermore, she is a joy to work with, as she embodies the traits of an AFI MSOY.
- by Tierra Jackson