Duty Station: Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay
Number of Deployments: 26
Number of PCS's: 1
Share your military spouse story:
My military story is probably very similar to most, I resigned from my job teaching Special Education to move with my husband and the military. After seeing how hard Special Needs families had to work to have their educational needs met around our base I decided to use my skills and work with families as a free Child and Family Advocate. I also wanted to support my husbands command and volunteered as an Ombudsman for the USS Tennessee Gold crew. As the years went by our own little one was diagnosed with Autism so I started to learn about the EFMP world and realized how few duty stations were available to us. 15 years later, 3 boats, 2 shore commands, 10 years as an ombudsman, and over 10,000 hours of service to Kings Base Naval base, we are still here. This past year I served as a volunteer at NMCRS and retired as an ombudsman to take on Relief Services Assistant at NMCRS Kings Bay part-time. Service has been my passion since I joined the ranks of those earning the Life Time Presidential Volunteer Service Award in high school, Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity in College, and Ombudsman and NMCRS volunteer as an adult. Service to others is the legacy I hope to leave behind.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Being an ombudsman for 10 years at one duty station brings with it a certain amount of leadership and training. I have the ability to prepare new spouses and family members for the journey they have ahead of them, relate to those that have been through years of military service, and commend those who have retired ahead of us supporting them on their next journey. As an ombudsman we're resource and information specialists but we are also the first ear a parent speaks to when their child deploys for the first time. I provide guidance for navigating those rough waters. Leadership is about helping to provide the tools for families to build resilience to this lifestyle and strength to know they can do it on their own. As NMCRS employee, I get to work on the other side of the table with mostly sailors, but it is often quite similar. I am advising and counseling on budgeting, car buying, finances which helping plan for futures or support changes from the past.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
In the last 15 years, as displayed above, I have given of myself fully to the military community from safe military housing initiatives, running the EFMP support group, volunteering as an ombudsman for 10 years, volunteering at NMCRS, and providing over 10,000 hours of service to the Kings Bay military community.
Describe how you support your community:
I believe my passion for this community speaks for itself with the number of sailors and family members I communicate with yearly. Over 200 command family members and over 150 sailors per command over the course of 5 duty stations. In addition, I have been Kings Bay's free advocate for families for the past 10 years supporting families with IEPs, classroom meetings, navigating healthcare systems, working on early intervention through Babies Can't Wait or the CDC on base, meeting with families and providing support with behavior plans.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for EFMP families and equality and support in the school systems across the board from state to state. I advocate from free support for military families in understanding special education services and knowing their rights. I advocate for this because I have taught in multiple school systems for 10 years and see the uphill battle our families face when school systems do not follow the laws and the difficulty in facing this battle with limited support. I have faced this battle myself and seen first hand what it is to show the laws to a group at a table and be told that they do things differently here than others might do them. Families are tired of fighting and give in or give up. Change has occurred and can keep occurring with more support.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have personally gone in and supported each family for free because I am a resource. I have worked with the senator for our state and joined zoom meetings during the pandemic to push for change. I wrote to congress and top military leaders in the field. There are changes slowly coming for military lawyers trained in special education law that have begun in the north that have not made it down to us thus far. We need this change down here more than ever.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I hope to continue to bring the change I wish to see in the world. I hope to remind everyone that our little community exists and seeks change. I hope to show that through volunteering military spouses make a difference to others. I want the world to see what the amazing ombudsman program does for sailors and their families. I want to highlight the work of our unsung heros, the ombudsman who give their time honorably at all hours supporting the command while our spouses are deployed. Our fleet and family should be recognized for their incredible programs and be a model for other bases.
Kimberly has served our community as a true leader. She’s serves as an Ombudsman and represents the Navy with the highest levels of professionalism. She truly cares about her fellow spouses and doesn’t skip a beat when someone is in need. She is truly amazing and I’m forever grateful I know her.
- by Jennifer Snickers