Branch: Marine Corps
Duty Station: Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport
Number of Deployments: 4
Number of PCS's: 12
Share your military spouse story:
So there I was, falling in love with a Marine whose reserve unit was being activated in support of Desert Storm in Dec of 1990. Love blossomed, endured challenges, reserve life turned into active duty life and through it all I learned to network and support others going through similar situations. I made friends, moved, had two awesome boys, made new friends- lifelong friends- moved and continue to learn from every experience. The L.I.N.K.S. Program for Marine Corps spouses gave me the confidence and knowledge to become a mentor, manager and Team leader revealing my life passion of public speaking. This volunteer experience led to employment and I still volunteer with the local team some 20 years later. To me, the most important thing about moving is making connections and finding my “tribe” at the new place. When my kids were little and we weren’t near any military base then my support came from other mothers in the same life situation, and together we supported school events, PTA, sports and Boy Scouts. I have come to recognize a new spouse (young and not-so-young alike) with fear in their eyes; and that’s my cue to invite them to a cup of coffee, find out their hobbies and interests and give them resources to get plugged in. When I have others in my life that I can count on then this military life is more enjoyable. The last decade I have been on the Cadre Speakers team for the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program for the DOD. This amazing opportunity allowed me to support service members and families of the National Guard and Reserves in their deployment cycle across this great nation. In addition to that, I was a part of the team that created the Desert Leadership Seminar for military spouses in the Twentynine Palms, CA area. This amazing nonprofit organization supports spouses with a free 3 day seminar promoting networking, professional and personal development, and volunteering. I’m continually working with spouses to live their best life!
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have been a mentor with the L.I.N.K.S. Spouse program since 2003. This program educates and encourages spouses to thrive in the military life. At each duty station I support the family readiness program, enjoy spouse social events and encouraging spouses to step into leadership roles in their area of interest. When my boys were younger and in scouts, I stepped up as a parent volunteer on the admin team and was also asked to lead a training team for the district office on popcorn sales! I have taken on roles of responsibility when asked by military leadership, and also recognize when I should encourage others to take the lead and be on the working side. Other roles of leadership I have held are serving as a Co-President of the base chapel Women’s Christian Fellowship, Mentor manager for LINKS, and President of the Desert Leadership Seminar.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Before there was organized family readiness groups I was involved. I know I’m really dating myself here, but there was the Key Wives and really just a call tree to pass the word among the unit spouses. Then I was involved as a Volunteer for the units official Key Volunteer program, battalion coordinator, LINKS mentor, Mentor manager, and Team Leader. At each base, if they had a LINKS team I was on it. One year I was the president of the spouses club, other years I was a supporters. Each duty station I look to see where there is a gap and offer to make it better. Desert Leadership Seminar for military spouses was an amazing challenge. Most recently we moved to a remote mountain base and I am enjoying serving on the family readiness team and encouraging the spouses to lead each other with crafting events, social gatherings and educational advancement.
Describe how you support your community:
I love to get into a community and look around to see what is going well and what isn’t. If an area is thriving then I most likely want to join as a supporter and enjoy what is happening there. If there are struggles or something missing entirely, well that’s my indicator to start digging. That is exactly what happened with the Desert Leadership Seminar. I voiced an opinion that there was a lack of leadership spouses mentoring the younger spouses and the ripple effect was evident. The team had already done the groundwork for the 501c3 and asked me to join in their efforts to bring it to life. Through the challenges of the pandemic we adapted and overcame and now it is a biannual seminar benefitting spouses in the southern desert of California. Mentoring is my passion, making connections is important to me and networking is a joy I pride myself on.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for the new spouses! I have been there and every time we move I go through the “new girl” syndrome that is just a process. Yes, it is intimidating at times, cured best by a friendly face, a smile and a hello. It may seem trivial to some- but when you know people it is easier to get out of the house, attend a unit event, or show up for a spouse social. As humans, a natural need is for human connection and most spouses that are miserable or hate a duty station probably haven’t made many connections. While connecting I try to share resources for everyone’s benefit that may apply to the situation. Resources are only useful if they are utilized. I have seen amazing resources come and go and only those that are utilized get to stay. Digital library for the book club, MFLAC for deployed spouses, Military OneSource for everyone in the military- there are just too many to mention!
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I love making connections and if I know someone has a need I work with them to fulfill that need with connections. A new photographer may be connected with a friend wanting headshots for her social media platform or an expecting mom may be connected with a group baby shower or toddler group. I try to get people together as I recognize the importance of personal contact and supporting each other. Friendships are born out of unique situations and they may be temporary friendships, container friendships or lifetime friendships.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
Oh wow, what a privilege that would be! I truly think it would be great to reinforce the importance of relationships, communication and getting back to the basics of taking care of each other. I love personality workshops and understanding other people and in todays fast paced technology dependent society it would be great to be the encourager of social events.
She’s always been such a kind soul, such a down to earth person!! Always helping with the community in every way she can & bringing the spouses together! Has such great advice, especially for young spouses who have just moved here with their significant other! She does her best to get to know everyone, to make everyone feel at home. She’s a great friend, fellow military spouse & more! She’s helped put so many events together & without her I wouldn’t of made our dog group we have at the base!! She pushed me to have that confidence to bring some spouses & their animal together. All around, I nominate Deanna Storer, she deserves it all!!! 💞
- by Andriana Nicole Tourikis