Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
Number of Deployments: 4
Number of PCS's: 6
Share your military spouse story:
Growing up in a family that was no stranger to military service, I had one requirement for my future spouse: that he not be in the military. I worried that the military lifestyle would conflict with my own career aspirations. But then I met my husband. He was charming, funny, ambitious, and loved volunteering as much as I did. We hit it off immediately. But there was one glaring problem – he was in the US Air Force. Six months later I finally agreed to go on a date with him. What was the harm in one date? One date led to another. And another. Three kids, four deployments, and six PCSes later, you can guess what happened. About a year into our marriage, my fear of my life being turned upside down came true. My husband had orders to a small base...in the middle of nowhere...with few job prospects for me. At first, I struggled with my new reality. But I finally resolved to make the best of my situation. I knew I wasn’t the only one struggling, so I became a key spouse to help other spouses feel less isolated and alone. I joined the board of the spouses’ club. I opened a coffee shop (because the town had none) and employed other military spouses to help run it. I joined the local chamber of commerce and became an advocate for military spouses. And then we got orders to move again. Over the next four years, we would live in a total of four houses, navigate three PCSes, two deployments, and give birth to three children. It was a lot. Although I continued to serve, I found myself struggling yet again. I began a quest to figure out how to make a meaningful contribution, while still prioritizing my well-being and the needs of my family. That journey led, first, to a blog dedicated to navigating life as a military spouse. And then to the MilSpouse Mastermind Show, a podcast to help military spouses reclaim their life and dreams. I have become convinced that, while challenging, it is absolutely possible to both embrace the life you have and create a life you love.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
My first PCS experience taught me a valuable lesson. When we release the frustration with our current circumstances, and begin to focus on what’s possible, new opportunities appear. One of my most meaningful leadership opportunities came while we were stationed at Laughlin AFB. At the time, I served as President of the spouse’s club and as a key spouse, along with being a local business owner and a member of the local chamber of commerce. My unique position allowed me to become a liaison between the military and local communities. Additionally, I was one of 17 community members chosen to participate in a year-long community development/leadership program. My roles allowed me to advocate both for the needs of the military spouse community and the ways that we, as military spouses, could support and engage with the local community. This ultimately ended with the town being awarded the coveted Altus Trophy for providing the best support to its military members.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
My first PCS taught me that it is possible to find purpose as a military spouse in any location; the next few taught me purpose looks different in each season of life. But with each PCS, I have found a way to contribute. In Little Rock, I used the skills I had cultivated in business and community development to collaborate with the FSS and create Wally’s Java, a coffee shop and community space for military families. I have served both as a key spouse for multiple units, and in military spouse clubs in various roles, including President, 2nd Vice President, Administrative Treasurer, Parliamentarian, Public Relations Coordinator, Fall Fest Co-Chair, and Mini Clubs Coordinator. Currently at JBPHH, I am an Air Force Resilience Training Assistant and serve as a key spouse mentor, fostering connection, resilience, and support for our military families. Globally, I host the MilSpouse Mastermind Show, which has been downloaded in all 50 states and in 67 countries around the world.
Describe how you support your community:
“Man, where was this podcast when I first became a military spouse!?” - Podcast Review. I have seen firsthand how much military spouses have to offer. And I have experienced the obstacles that comes with trying to pursue purpose at each new duty station and season of life. Fast forward three babies, four moves, and four states later. I was tired of starting over. Job hunting. Finding childcare. Feeling pulled in all directions. I quickly realized so many other military spouses were struggling with the same things – loss of identity, a need for community, and a desire to find their “own thing,” without burning themselves out in the process. In 2021 I launched the MilSpouse Mastermind Show podcast. Each week we discuss topics such as mental health, resilience, self-care, identity, setting goals, starting a business, finding community, and how to sustainably pursue purpose as a military spouse. The podcast is fueled by my desire to see spouses thrive in their current season of life.
What do you advocate for? Why?
A sense of meaning and purpose for military spouses. So many military spouses place their dreams and passions on the back burner. They believe they must wait for some future season to pursue their dreams. As a result, they begin to struggle with identity, to question who they are and what they have to offer. I believe each of us has something valuable to offer. When we play small, the world misses out, and we become a shadow of who we were meant to be. We struggle with feelings of frustration, anxiety, stress, self-doubt, isolation and lack of purpose. I empower military spouses to find purpose and reclaim their life and dreams, so they can trade their frustration for fulfillment and isolation for a life of impact. They discover who they are meant to be, and together we impact the world for good.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
The MilSpouse Mastermind Show podcast launched in early 2021. The podcast regularly ranks number one for military spouse podcasts on Apple iTunes and is ranked as a top 5% podcast globally. With over 120 episodes to date, I help military spouses gain clarity on what matters most to them, and how to sustainably pursue their dreams in their current season of life. I have had the privilege of conducting over 30 interviews with military spouse and subject matter experts; and have been a featured guest on numerous other podcasts. The podcast recently surpassed the 17,000 download mark and continues to grow. In addition to the podcast and blog, I host a free community group on Facebook to provide another space for continued conversation, connectivity, encouragement and collaboration.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
There will always be challenges associated with the military lifestyle. Frequent moves, deployments, ever-changing work shifts, and a lack of sufficient support systems leaves many military spouses feeling frustrated, isolated, and unhappy with life. It is my mission to empower military spouses to create rich, full and meaningful lives today. The AFI Military Spouse of the Year title would create more opportunities to share the message that a meaningful and fulfilling life is possible as a military spouse. When military spouses believe they don’t have to wait for some future season to pursue their dreams and feel empowered to take action, everyone benefits. They trade those feelings of frustration, for a sense of purpose, peace, happiness, and a life of impact. That sense of happiness and fulfillment ripples out to their spouses, families, and communities. As they step into using their gifts, others’ lives are positively impacted. And together we impact the world for good.
I first remember meeting Christine before I was a military spouse and was working at Laughlin AFB. When I think of her I think “small but might” and “boss”! At Laughlin she took her love of coffee and community and create a charming coffee shop in Del Rio, TX. From afar I watched her shatter stereotypes what a military spouse was or wasn’t and in doing so she gave others around her permission to just be themselves. Today, I still cheer her on as she support military spouses develop their mindset as she serves as a mentor. She is the host of the MilSpouse Mastermind Podcast and is a loving wife and mom. When I think of who inspires me as a military spouse, it’s Christine and with this nomination I hope that she inspires many many more.
- by Bree Carroll