Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
Number of Deployments: 1
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
My mil spouse story started rather unexpectedly. I met my husband Ryan in 2008 at a local church activity in Phoenix, Arizona and we started dating. Ultimately, we fell in love and—as young lovers do—dreamed of one day getting married. The challenge faced by many young couples in the 2008 economy was that there were very few entry-level jobs to be had. Complicating things even more, as a survivor of a chronic, lifelong disease, I knew that having sustainable health benefits would be at the top of my list of needs. Having known a handful of post-9/11 service members personally, I broadly understood the military’s robust healthcare potential and the financial stability that came with the job. Because of Ryan’s challenges finding work, our desire to get married, and my need for good healthcare, we ultimately landed on Ryan joining the Air Force. Until that point, I had never considered the military as a viable option for either me or my spouse. He entered service in February of 2009 and was away to basic training and tech school for seven months… my journey into being a military spouse commenced. The subsequent years have brought us 4 moves (working on number 5 now), 4 kids, a deployment, and a lifetime of unique and marvelous experiences. Throughout the course of Ryan's career, I have been committed to providing support and resources to those at the grassroots level of the organizations he has been a part of. I am convinced that is where people feel the most direct love and support. It is also where the needs are greatest and the impact of my efforts can be felt most strongly. Ryan later commissioned as an officer, granting me new insights and perspectives into service, allowing me to see things through the lenses of both the enlisted family as well as the officer family. It has been my greatest honor to be a military spouse and I will continue to serve this community for as long as I can.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
My leadership approach is simple: prioritize the support of military families and the mission will get done. I’ve made it my mission to make sure military spouses do not feel forgotten or marginalized. I have worked to strengthen the Key Spouse program for deployed spouse outreach by collaborating with leadership and base agencies to identify and mitigate obstacles to collecting contact information on spouses of deployed members. I also organized a multitude of events such as a Valentine's Day delivery for deployed spouses, playdate events for military families, and a Kids' Christmas Party for two large organizations to name a few. These efforts worked to alleviate the isolation and stress inherent in the lives of military families. I am proud of the work we have accomplished with the Key Spouse program and the positive impact it had on military families. It was a great experience for me as a leader to be able to make a difference in the lives of service members and their loved ones.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
One of my most notable contributions has been co-authoring a children's book about military families moving and the emotions surrounding kids having to say goodbye. My goal was to ensure military kids have the tools necessary to navigate their emotions as they face their next PCS. In addition to writing, I have also dedicated time and energy to serving as a key spouse for my husband's squadron. As a key spouse, I am responsible for providing support and resources to service members and their families. I organize events and activities to bring military families together and provide a sense of community. I also provide support to families dealing with difficult issues such as deployments. Overall, I am dedicated to serving and supporting the military community. I am proud of the contributions I have made and will continue to make in the future. Whether it's through writing or volunteering, I strive to make a positive impact in the lives of military families.
Describe how you support your community:
I am proud to be an active and engaged member of my community. I believe in the importance of being there for my neighbors and being a reliable friend. Whether it's running to the store for medicine when a child is sick or picking up groceries when someone can't, I am always willing to lend a helping hand. I also believe in the power of community building and strive to bring my neighbors together. I often host fire pit gatherings, which serves as a way for new families on the block to mingle and get to know each other. This small act of kindness has helped foster a sense of community and belonging among my neighbors. I take pride in being a good neighbor and friend, and I believe that it is these small acts of kindness that make a big difference in people's lives. I believe that by supporting each other and building a sense of community, we can create a better and stronger community that supports its military.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for providing support and resources to military families during the transitional phases of a service member’s career. I believe that this is an often-overlooked aspect of military life and one that can have a significant impact on the well-being of military families. One notable example is that I wrote a children's book about moving to help military children understand and cope with the emotions involved with having to relocate. PCSing can be a difficult and stressful time for military families, and it's essential to provide them with the necessary tools and resources to help them cope with these challenges. I believe that providing these services to military families during challenging phases of life is crucial in helping them thrive and maintain their mental and emotional well-being.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
As a military spouse and mother, I am empathetic to families who struggle with the constant need of support during stressful periods of military life. My focus this year has been on PCSing with kids. I created the Instagram page called 'MovinMilitaryKids' as a platform to both message my advocacy and build a support network of families across the DoD. I also established key partnerships with bloggers, podcasters, and news outlets with large followings to spread awareness and share valuable insights relative to this issue. Though I’ve made significant strides to communicate the cause, it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on where I would like it to go. Should I be fortunate enough to receive this distinguished award, I plan to utilize it as an opportunity to promote and raise awareness of the resources available to military families of all backgrounds who are about to relocate.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
As a military spouse, I have come to appreciate the importance of building and maintaining strong communities within the military. I am a firm believer that anyone can make a difference, regardless of their circumstances. As a stay-at-home parent, I understand the challenges and limitations that come with this role. However, I also believe that this does not mean that one cannot make a positive impact. I want others who are in a similar position as me to realize that you don't have to do anything big and grand to make a difference. It is the small, everyday acts of kindness that can have a significant effect on the lives of others. I believe that it is important for everyone to realize that they have the power to make a positive difference in their community, regardless of their circumstances. I hope that by sharing my philosophy through the AFIMSOY, others will be inspired to take small steps towards making a positive impact in their own communities.
I met Kim through social media and I felt like I have known her forever. We chat about military life, children, and the differences between Alaska and Delaware. I am so thankful I found her. Her and her husband wrote a children’s book to help kids with PCS moves. She is also an amazing Key Spouse. When no one is able to help - she is at the front line supporting her husband’s fellow airmen and all the families. I am in awe of everything she does for her base and her family. Hope she can bring that over here to the east coast soon. She is more deserving of this award.
- by Shelby Myers