Duty Station: Fort Huachuca
Number of Deployments: 2
Number of PCS's: 6
Share your military spouse story:
My military story started in 1996, as an Army girlfriend. My then-boyfriend joined the Army while I was still in high school, and our long-distance relationship grew via letters and long phone calls. I was very proud and recall joining online forums of other Army girlfriends. Now, that I think about it I've always looked to find a community to be a part of and help in. He came home after successfully serving his enlistment. In Oct 2000, we got married and lived as civilians while he went to college. After graduating he decided to come back into the Army, and then the adventure began. In 2006 with a newborn baby in tow, our family moved to Fort Bragg, NC. The start of a career for him and a life I'd never imagined for myself after being married as civilians, for five years. I enjoyed being home with our newborn son and looked to groups for friendship and community. Learning "military life" was interesting and fun, I could not have asked for a better partner, than my husband. His support has been paramount in everything that I do. Six duty stations later and my sense of community has only grown by being active in family readiness groups, spouse clubs, in organizations in our local communities at all of our duty stations and online via my blog. Twenty-two years later our home is complete with our two boys, and our two cats.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
For myself, it is not so much being a leader it is being a helper. My experience as a military spouse has been in service to others. Whether it is serving on a spouses' club board, being a representative for an organization at a duty station, managing online community groups for military spouses, or starting groups for spouses that have a variety of interests, all of these are examples of how I help in my community.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I learned quickly that being a friendly and social person would be helpful in being a military spouse. I have had the pleasure of serving on spouse club boards at most of our duty stations and almost always find a way to volunteer and serve our military community at every duty station.
Describe how you support your community:
Currently, at Fort Huachuca, I serve as the Webmaster for the Fort Huachuca Community Spouses' Club. I am an administrator for two military spouse groups on Facebook, where I share important and pertinent information in and around Fort Huachuca. I volunteer as a coordinator for the USO Arizona where I help plan the evening events for military spouses stationed at Fort Huachuca. And I am an active volunteer with the PTO of the elementary school.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for the spouse community. We each love and support our service members and I want to be there for the spouses. I love being a part of organizations that give spouses priority and community. Sharing and/or researching helpful resources and information for spouses brings me a lot of joy. We are all in different seasons of military life, and come from different backgrounds, and I believe it is important to hear our stories to make it easier or at least help provide resources so that spouses after us can be ready and prepared to tackle military life.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Communication is one of my strengths, I am a content creator and social media influencer. I create and share military-related content on my blog and social channels as Candypolooza. I am a very social person, I love engaging with people in person and online.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
To continue advocating for military spouses, by sharing resources and maybe even helping develop further resources with military-affiliated organizations. I am grateful and humbled by this nomination.
Candy is the perfect nomination for MSOY! She is the spouse that goes out of their way to welcome new people and to make sure everyone has a seat at the table. She is always willing to lend a hand and she works hard to create incredible opportunities for spouses at every duty station she is at!
- by Emily McGruder