Duty Station: Hunter Army Airfield
Number of Deployments: 3
Number of PCS's: 1
Share your military spouse story:
As she stood in the MEPS office watching him raise his right hand her stomach dropped to the floor. Her high school sweetheart really did it. He made an oath to leave his family in service to his country. Tears streamed down her face realizing that the distance that had separated them by attending two different colleges would be nothing in comparison to the path ahead. So began the story of sink or swim. She made the choice in that moment to be raft that was going to withstand the storm. The storm she did withstand. Their first storm? She planned their full-blown wedding in 30 days. The second storm? This all took place while poor Travis sat in basic training thinking the engagement was called off because he hadn't received any of the letters she had sent him. Their 12/30/17 wedding attendance was more than they could have wished for. One week after the two sweethearts tied the knot, Travis returned to finish out RASP. Consumed by the idea of finally living close to each other again, Camille moved down to their quaint Savannah duty station a month before his arrival in the spring of 2018. They shared a tight 3rd story apartment with their German Shepherd Max. When the apartment grew small, Travis went TDY just in time for pregnant Camille to buy and move into their first home. He made 15 holes in the wall hanging curtain rods and watched the birth of his first child before deploying when his son was 8 weeks old. They weathered the storms of multiple deployments, a purple heart, countless TDY trips. Camille has always attributed her success and love for the military spouse lifestyle to the support of her best friend, Travis. When Camille felt like the raft might have succumbed to waves, he was ready and willing to scoop out the cold water with his bare hands.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
In a last ditch effort to patch the holes in the life raft of military life, Camille signed up for every single spouse event being held in 2018. When the doors were open, she was present. The FRG took notice of her presence and offered her the opportunity to take on the role of the company treasurer. Being that Camille thrives off of high-calorie mountain dew and her ability to talk to virtually anything, she held her treasurer role for two years in combination with being a key caller. When her husband moved companies she handed the reigns over to a new spouse and became a key caller within the new company.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
If you're anything like Camille and you feel as if you're a raft in the middle of the ocean, you have to find your lighthouse. Get involved and find your group of people. When you have things to do that are your own, you're able to be a much better military spouse. I created an identity for myself outside of being Travis' wife by volunteering. If the FRSA needed help setting up for an event, I showed up. If there was a group that wanted to hold an activity and needed another person, I was present. It wasn't about the recognition. I wanted to be the familiar face that other spouses needed to feel comfortable enough to get involved themselves. When I first attended an event, a wife greeted me by name with a warm, welcoming smile. I’ll never forget the comfort I felt in that moment. I wanted to return that hopeful lighthouse opportunity to others.
Describe how you support your community:
My involvement within the family readiness volunteer opportunities calmed the waves of the storms of military life and allowed me to embark on countless ventures. My lighthouses encouraged me start my own business where I have had the pleasure of creating beautiful home decor and clothing pieces for other spouses as well as for military-related nonprofits. I vowed from the beginning to use my business to support the community that supported me, and I have used my business to give back to military charities including Gold Star Scholars and It's A Military Life. My business connection with fellow military spouse and It's A Military Life founder Christina Etchberger, recently allowed me the opportunity to join the organization as their Fundraiser Coordinator and the Program Director for their program Veteran Pen Pal Project. I have the pleasure of encouraging non-military families to become pen pals with veterans. Who doesn’t love snail mail?
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for being the yes man. Say yes whenever you can. Say yes when you're invited to an event. Say yes when you're asked to volunteer. Say yes when someone offers to drop off a meal. When you say no, you're taking away the opportunity you have to find a lighthouse or be a lighthouse in someone else's storm. There is going to be a storm, such as military life. You have to decide whether you're going to sink or swim. Don't be afraid to meet other spouses or your spouse's command. Represent your spouse in a positive light by being a helping hand to others.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Bless those that have had the opportunity to meet me. I could truly talk to a wall. I’ve realized more recently that passion glows from me. I wear my heart on my sleeve and when I get involved with something, I go all in. My endeavors are smeared across every social platform I'm on. I happily introduce myself to strangers when I'm given the opportunity to talk about the charity that I volunteer for, and I make it a point to tell others how it has positively impacted my life to be involved in something bigger than myself.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
Not many things leave me speechless. I've always found that I have been blessed with words to describe most any occasion or feeling. I cannot, however, describe how profoundly it feels to have been nominated for Military Spouse of the Year. I don’t want the recognition for the volunteer roles I’ve held. I simply want other people to know how filling your time by supporting others in turn helps you become the lighthouse that you needed when you were in the midst of the storm. I would love to use this opportunity of recognition to help grow the nonprofit that I hold near and dear, It's A Military Life.
Camille truly walks the walk and talks the talk by serving her fellow military spouses, veterans, and families. Whether it is simple acts of kindness, or advocating for causes that better the military community, she is an amazing example of a military spouse who makes the most of the ever-changing military life.
I have known Camille for a few years now, and she is genuinely one of the most kind-hearted individuals I have ever met. I have seen the impact it has on those around her, and I nominate her today because I know she would use this opportunity to better the community around her and beyond.
- by Christina Etchberger