Lindsay Cavanagh

Branch: Navy

Duty Station: Naval Air Facility Atsugi

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 5

Share your military spouse story:
Being a military spouse was never the plan. Growing up in Colorado, I knew very little about military life, and never envisioned it for myself. So, when I started dating this cute guy in the Navy, it took me by surprise. It took MONTHS before I was willing to call him my boyfriend because I didn’t know if I could handle the lifestyle. Fast forward 15 years later and we are married with two young girls, have undergone 4 deployments (with 2 more scheduled over the next 2 years), 6 PCS's, have now lived in three different countries, and have created countless memories. Despite my extreme hesitation, it turns out that I LOVE being a military spouse. I am so proud to be in this elite group of people who sacrifice tirelessly, seek to elevate others, and find creative ways to follow their dreams while managing everything at home. The military life has forced me out of my comfort zone more times than I would like to admit, and without this experience, I would not know my own strength and my own resilience. Moving frequently and constantly being unsettled (and unable to understand the languages around me), has cultivated such wonderful self-reflection that I don’t know I could have experienced any other way. I recently moved to Japan on my own while my spouse was deployed with a 4 year-old, a 6 month-old, a cat, 9 checked bags, and 5 carry ons (and a Partridge in a Pear Tree). Looking back, I admire that strong woman and would never know I could accomplish anything close to that. I know my life’s purpose is to support other military spouses, and military life has given me the confidence to follow that dream. Lastly, it has blessed me with the most wonderful friendships and "framily" that truly make this lifestyle unique, and given me so many opportunities to learn and grow. I truly think military spouses are the most incredible people on the planet and I feel lucky to be among them.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have had the pleasure to serve in various leadership opportunities to bring others together and improve the military spouse experience. I have held leadership positions in various Naval Officer's Spouse Clubs. Specifically, I served as Treasurer and Secretary for the OSC group in MCBH Kaneohe Bay and as the US Representative for Spouses International Group (SIG), associated with NATO Lisbon. I currently serve as one of the command spouse mentors here in Japan with the sole aim to create an environment that is supportive and positive. I continually seek to be a leader by example. I share the struggles I have experienced as well as the resources and steps I have taken to work through them. I consistently normalize accessing support services and talking through helpful ways to do so. I consistently tell other military spouses that they are not alone, and ways they can work through whatever challenge they are experiencing.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have worked as a military psychologist for much of my professional life. Most notably, I was involved with OASIS (Overcoming Adversity and Stress Injury Support), a residential program dedicated to active duty service members who have been diagnosed with PTSD sustained while in active duty service. To further increase my engagement in the community, I started my own organization, Married to Military, which seeks to support military marriages, reducing barriers and increasing access for immediate support and ultimately strengthen the lives of military spouses and their families. I work one-on-one with military spouses who would otherwise struggle to access these services. I do so by creating flexibility with how they receive this support, including online appointments or via an app. I also have created multiple support resources, such as a courses specifically aimed to improve the military spouse's experience during deployment.

Describe how you support your community:
I support my community by sharing my skills and experiences wherever possible. I launched he Married to Military podcast, which provides weekly episodes dedicated to helping improve the lives and marriages of military spouses. Along with my own knowledge and experience, I bring on military spouse guests, many of which have been MSOY winners, to offer their expertise. I created a Facebook group to provide a safe space to receive support without judgement and recourse. In that group, I host a weekly livestream on various topics and serves as a place for people to ask questions and receive additional support. I host various challenges each year focusing on topics such as deployment prep, managing holiday stress, and creating a happier military marriage. In one challenge, over 50 military spouses attended to learn simple ways to strengthen their own marriage. Lastly, I am constantly serving as a guest speaker at events throughout the country.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I am a fierce advocate for military marriages. A marriage is the most important relationship in a person's life. Despite the plethora of resources available to military couples, several barriers and stigmas prevent military marriages from receiving the support and assistance they need, including difficulties with access to current services, long waitlists, lack of providers, concern about career impact, and inflexibility with scheduling. While the current culture in the military is speaking more to the importance of healthy marriages, I feel like it falls far short when it comes to the practice of seeking assistance and encouraging the strengthening of military marriages to be a focus. No one is taught how to have healthy relationships with others and yet it is the core foundation of our lives. For these reasons, I fiercely advocate for strong military marriages and minimizing the barriers associated with receiving marital support.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Working as a military psychologist, I realized that there were several barriers that continued to prevent military couples from having a healthy, stable marriage despite the resources available to them. Specifically, the difficulty of arranging schedules together, stigmas associated with seeking help, and lack of awareness of available resources to name a few. I was feeling frustrated by these barriers and decided to take it into my own hands, with the creation of Married to Military. Along with the podcast and regular live social media trainings, I offer confidential marriage support on Zoom for military spouses, in order to eliminate scheduling challenges, childcare issues, and military related concerns. I regularly use social media to reach out to military spouses and help them recognize that they are not alone. I also never turn down a guest speaker invitation as I find that many still do not realize the resources available to them and how helpful the resources could be.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
As a 2021 base winner, I know firsthand the incredible opportunities that come from AFI’s MSOY program. When I was nominated again this year, I was hesitant. I was so lucky to have this experience last year, should I compete again? Should I encourage everyone to vote for me AGAIN? Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to go forward with this process for a couple of reasons. First: Last year I was unable to participate in many of the AFI MSOY activities as I was incredibly pregnant (my daughter was born 20 days after the conference). Second, I have grown so much as a person and as a professional over the last year. I am ready for a bigger platform to help all military families have a strong foundation, reduce the stigma associated with seeking help, and creating more stream-lined pathways to access those services. If I’m lucky enough to earn the AFI MSOY title, I look forward to working with others to improve the lives of all military families.


Lindsay has an amazing podcast called "Married to Military," where she uses her expertise as a Doctor of Psychology solely to help military couples improve their marriages. As a military spouse of 15 years, I've gained SO much knowledge and community from listening to Lindsay's podcast. She's absolutely brilliant and so down-to-earth. She also created a method of marriage coaching that works from just the spouse's side, which reduces barriers to getting marital help in military marriages. She's literally helping keep service members and their spouses married.
- by Lauren Saglimbene

Lindsay is doing phenomenal work for military marriages by focusing on the needs and desires of military spouses!
- by Jayla Rae Ardelean