Branch: Marine Corps
Duty Station: Marine Corps Base Hawaii
Number of Deployments: 1
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
It had never even crossed my mind as a possibility that I might meet or marry someone in the military. Very few from my small town (population 800) in Wisconsin chose the military after high school. It was a lifestyle and a career path that I just hadn’t considered. I met my husband just after graduating with a master’s degree in Hospitality/Tourism and was working in the hospitality and event planning industry. I had only been working in the industry for about two years when things became more serious between us. When he got stationed in Yuma AZ in late 2008, I then made the decision in February of 2009 to join him. He proposed in April of that year, and we were married in August! We have moved 4 times since then, including one move overseas, and are currently awaiting word of our 5th move. At the present time, I homeschool our three amazingly resilient children, ages 12, 10, and 5 and cater to their extracurricular activities, as well as support my husband and military community in Kailua HI. We have been fortunate to make lasting relationships with other military families wherever we have been stationed, and that has been a key factor for us in cultivating a successful military career. Despite the difficulties the military lifestyle can bring about, I now can’t imagine living any other life, nor would I choose to if I could do it differently. As a family and individually, we have had some amazing opportunities, and for that I am grateful.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
While stationed at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego CA, I was still relatively new to the Marine Corps, but I wanted to find a way to get involved. I became part of the Family Readiness team as a volunteer and eventually as a Family Readiness Assistant where I helped cultivate a supportive environment for the drill instructor's spouses and their families. I helped to organize anything from play-dates for our kids, to spa dates for the spouses, to larger battalion wide functions. I also participated in the battalion's spouse sports league, in which we played four sports a year. Participating in events like these, fostered friendship, trust, and solidarity among the spouses. After tearing my ACL during flag football, I had to sit out the volleyball season so I coached the team instead. These years are some of my most memorable years in the military as a spouse and began my interest in fostering an included, involved, family-type of environment in other military communities.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have always had a thirst for knowledge and a passion for sharing information with others. I recently heard actor Matthew McConaughey put it this way, "I wanna know what I don't know". Exactly! This became an actual goal of mine when I became a military spouse. I had a desire to search out accurate, helpful information. I began my involvement in 2011 when I volunteered for the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society. In addition to providing confidential counseling on financial management and budgeting, I acted as representative for NMCRS at the Welcome Aboard briefings. After realizing how amazing military life can be by getting involved, I wanted to share that kind of knowledge in other military communities. As an involved member of the military community I strive to be flexible, forgiving, and inclusive. We all struggle at one time or another, and showing kindness allows and encourages others to be their best selves and improve morale for Marines and their families.
Describe how you support your community:
Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker, has said that "your quality of life equals the quality of your relationships". I firmly believe this and would add that involvement in an environment can bring about quality relationships. I support my community by encouraging participation in the community. By volunteering and engaging others in positive and healthy opportunities within the community, and creating togetherness and support among spouses, I hope to improve the military community. Often times I meet new people through my children's sports. This a great example of an opportunity for me to share my knowledge of military life and community, and bring people together. I also support my community by assisting in the planning of events such as the nostalgic Birthday Ball. This past fall, I was able to bridge the gap between the military and the civilian providers during planning and execution of our Birthday Ball at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I strongly believe that you get out of something, what you put into it. When you stay engaged in something in a positive way, you feel more invested, which creates ownership. This describes almost exactly why I feel strongly about getting involved in my military community. I am always trying to be the best version of myself that I can be. I have found that I can do this more consistently if I get involved and find quality relationships within my community. This coupled with my hospitality background has taught me to encourage others to do the same.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I like to think that I spread my message by simply being myself. The best way to be myself is through face to face interactions and by getting out in the community. I’m an honest, considerate person, and I enjoy supporting others in finding their happy place within their own military communities. I lead by example.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
With the AFI MSOY title, I hope to increase awareness about the fulfilling nature of positive involvement and quality relationships in military communities. Whether a small act or a large scale initiative there is something for everyone to be a part of. Hopefully in the not so far off future, I will have my own event planning business and continue to support military communities by seeking out military owned business to assist in my planning.
Josalyn has spent countless hours volunteering for the MCB Hawaii Kaneohe Air Station. She was integral in planning and executing the Marine Corps Ball in 2022. She also was the driving force behind our Air Station Holiday Party. Josalyn selflessly uses her event management skills and background for the betterment of our community. We are so lucky to have her!
- by Stephanie Kesterson