Branch: Marine Corps
Duty Station: Naval Base San Diego
Number of Deployments: 3
Number of PCS's: 6
Share your military spouse story:
I am a Marine Corps spouse of nearly 18 years, a mother of 3, an elementary school educator, and a published children's book author. I am from a small town in rural Illinois where I met the love of my life, Jake. We fell in love and began dating a mere two months before he set to leave for Marine Corps Bootcamp. We continued to write love letters back and forth, (which I still keep in a shoe box and have miraculously not lost during our many PCS moves). And just a short seven months later we were set to marry. Together we have endured 6 PCS moves (one OCONUS during a global pandemic), three deployments, and countless other separations due to training exercises, TAD’s, and schoolhouses. Against all odds, 18 years later, we are still happily married and raising our three children and two fur babies in beautiful and sunny San Diego. I have always had a passion for working with young children. So, when I haven’t been playing the busy role of a military spouse, mother, chauffeur, chef, housekeeper, and everything else that comes along with this gig, I have spent years caring for, teaching, and loving tiny humans both inside the classroom and out. Helping my children and my students navigate the many challenges and emotions that come with the “military family” title inspired me to write my own children’s book, "I'm A Dandelion: A PCS Story For Military Children" based on our experiences. My book was published in March of 2021 and has helped many military children around the globe cope with the feelings they face when it comes to picking up and moving across the country or world.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
An example of my leadership experience in the military community is taking the initiative to create and spearhead a Halloween Candy and holiday card drive for my husband's Naval ship, USS ESSEX, during their 2021 deployment with the 11th MEU. With the holidays quickly approaching, I hated the thought of young Marines and Sailors missing out on their sentimental holiday traditions. After brainstorming how I might be able to help, I decided to get the community involved and began collecting donations of Halloween candy, monetary donations, and homemade Christmas cards. Leading this drive was a success and, with the help of community organizations like The Girl Scouts, friends, and family, together we were able to ship out roughly one hundred pounds of candy and hundreds of holiday cards to help bring joy and a piece of home to the deployed service members during the holidays.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Although life is often busy, I have tried to be as involved in the military community as much as possible. I have enjoyed contributing to many events that help bring the military spouse and family community together. I have helped organize and participate in events that include charity work such as a squadron-adopted orphanage in Japan, a child-ran lemonade stand to raise money, Christian Women’s Fellowship’s Deployed Spouse Outreach, and a “Christmas Cookie Drop” for single Marines. I have also participated in fundraisers, such as OSC scholarship fundraisers and squadron bake sales. I have enjoyed hosting and participating in social gatherings to build community and camaraderie among servicemembers' spouses and families. These include “Cookies with Santa”, Chili Cook Offs, Month of the Military Child picnics, Spouse Coffee Dates and Night’s Out, and much more. I firmly believe in the saying “many hands make light work” so I try to contribute my hands as often as possible.
Describe how you support your community:
As a mom and an elementary school teacher, formerly at an overseas DoDEA school and now in an area with a heavy active duty presence, I have a deep connection with military children. My platform is supporting “Dandelion Kids”. Military children are referred to as “dandelions” due to their many common characteristics such as strength, resiliency, and ability to grow roots. I have held many virtual and in-person read-aloud events where I have shared my published children’s book and donated copies to help serve the community. I have also donated to the National Military Family Association’s “Operation Purple Camp”, a summer camp my own children have attended and loved. Our military children experience so many unique scenarios and I believe they deserve as much support and as many resources as possible. I believe they should be celebrated for their many sacrifices and therefore I continue to be involved in Month of the Military Child celebrations to promote the “Purple Up” campaign.
What do you advocate for? Why?
Helping children of military members is a passion of mine. When the pandemic hit and I found myself out of the classroom, I needed a new way to advocate for my students. I decided to combine my passion for teaching with my love for reading and thus my book was born. It remains my hope that the book will become a resource for parents who may not have the words to explain why it is time to move. This platform is special to me because military kids are born into this lifestyle without any choice. Their parents unselfishly chose a life of service and must place duty above all else. Due to this, military kids must make many sacrifices of their own. They celebrate holidays and birthdays away from extended family. They often perform in concerts, recitals, and sporting events without their service member in the audience. The average military child moves every two to three years and has likely changed schools 6 to 9 times before graduation. These frequent moves come at a cost.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have used my social media platforms to educate others and advocate for military children. I have educated the civilian world on the many challenges these children face; things that most cannot even comprehend. I have teamed up with the organization Military Child Education Coalition by donating a portion of my book proceeds to their nonprofit. I have also been featured in several newspaper articles, including Star and Stripes News.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
If I had the honor of receiving the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title I would use it to continue advocating for our military children. I would love to provide more education and resources to improve the social and emotional well-being of our military children and provide training for military families to overcome obstacles together. In addition, it is a goal of mine to begin a non-profit organization that will provide scholarships and grants for military students, as well as provide a chance for these children to experience activities and opportunities they may have missed out on due to deployments, frequent relocations, loss, and other military-related hardships.
It is an honor to nominate Brooke for this award. She consistently displays all four qualities; inspires, empowers, engages and advocates. She is a published children author. Brooke is a teacher who inspire her students and her peers. At each duty station Brooke volunteers and helps in areas that have a need. She is honest, hardworking and is always willing to help. She is worthy of being nominated and to be recognized for her long standing dedication to helping support her Marine, the Marine Corps service member and the families.
- by Miles for the Heart