Duty Station: Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield
Number of Deployments: 1
Number of PCS's: 5
Share your military spouse story:
For every one million children less than one will be confronted Hepatablastoma, a rare form of liver cancer. I was only three months old when my parents got the news that their baby was “one in a million,” so to speak. Thirty-one years later, I am tempted to say that I both battled and beat cancer before my first birthday, but such a bold proclamation, albeit inspiring, is somewhat misleading. Although the physical battle with cancer was over before I even knew it began, I learned at a very young age that I would be facing lifelong consequences, both physically and mentally. The side effects of both the disease and the treatment, present a very real threat to the quality - not to mention the very existence - of my life. At the same time, and irreconcilably so, it gives me my most meaningful reason for living. It has enabled me to see the joy in each day and not take time for granted. It has taught me to turn the mundane into magic and make the most of any situation. So, when I met a handsome soldier at a friend’s wedding in 2012, I didn't mind when he said he was deploying in five days. We texted, wrote emails, and Skyped as much as his schedule would allow for those nine months. We turned our unfortunate timing into a love story that would make Hallmark swoon. We became best friends virtually and once he returned home made it official. A week into our marriage we had our first PCS and life has not slowed down since. Six houses, five PCSs, four states, three animals, two military IDs, and one daughter later, our family is currently making the most of our time at Fort Stewart. Coming off of a surprise rapid deployment last year and currently gearing up for another deployment in the fall, our mindset is to make the most of the time we have left together in coastal Georgia.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
My favorite leadership quote is “when the best leader’s work is done, the people will say we did it ourselves.” I had this exact quote in mind when I co-founded Household Six, a podcast for military spouses. Our motto is to educate, empower, and encourage spouses to leave their duty station better than they found it. In 2021, while I was a BN SFRG advisor, I met a lot of young & new spouses who were not familiar with all the technical stuff about being an army wife. They were all eager to learn and I knew the army would be lucky to count them as volunteers. But I was stuck on how to start; on how to get 8 years of experience condensed into a conversation. So, I began brainstorming how could I help these spouses without them having to give up so much of their time? What if they could just listen to friends chatting on their morning commute? Could hear us share our common struggles and embarrassing stories so they don't feel so alone? We are now halfway through our second season!
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Throughout my eight years as a spouse, I have held almost all positions of the SFRG such as key caller, SGRG Leader, and most recently SFRG BN Advisor. Currently, in addition to being the CEO and co-founder of Household Six, I also volunteer in my local military community of Fort Stewart, GA. I am on the governing board of the Marne Community and Spouses Club, serving at the Public Relations chairperson. This position has allowed me to meet so many members of our community, attend monthly Community Information Exchange meetings, collaborate on media projects with post leadership, and manage our social media presence. Outside of titled positions I have also volunteered for the Fort Stewart/HAAF USO and our local Army Community Service Office. In May of 2022 I helped both of these organizations plan & execute a Military Spouse Appreciation Event for all local spouses.
Describe how you support your community:
It is very important to me that our SFRGs, spouses’ clubs, and my podcast are inclusive to all spouses. Whether your spouse is an officer or enlisted, whether you are a newlywed or you’ve seen a duty station or two, YOU are welcome! I remember as a young spouse I was very intimidated by seasoned spouses and assumed my contribution was not needed. Now, eight years into Army life, I realize how valuable and refreshing this young, new perspective is! I know it can be intimidating to show up to events and meetings when you do not know anyone. My favorite part about being the Public Relations chairperson on the spouses’ club is that I manage our social media accounts. Anytime I post about an upcoming event or social I always also post “please message me if you are nervous about coming, I will meet you at the door so you can walk in with a friend.”
What do you advocate for? Why?
In my personal life I advocate for those with rare, chronic, and mental health conditions. I encourage people to embrace the suck and find the joy. I often say this is the perfect motto for military spouses as well. This life can be chaotic. Whether it is rapid deployments or PCS orders changing last minute, you definitely have to go with the flow as a military spouse. When life is messy and overwhelming, we have to lean into the chaos, admit that it is a hard season of life, and search for the moments of joy. I would say I advocate for all spouses to do the best they can with where they are at. Some duty station you will thrive and others you won’t. Acknowledging that both situations are okay and normal is the best thing you can do for your mental health.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
As CEO, co-founder, and co-host of Household Six, I have preached the importance of mental health, inclusivity, and my personal message of embracing the suck and finding the joy through our various social media channels, including our private Facebook group with over 1k members. Our podcast is well into our second season. In 2022 our podcast was in the top 20% of most followed podcasts and in the top 15% most shared podcasts globally. As the Public Relations chairperson for our spouses’ club, I have collaborated on social media projects with our Garrison Commander, in a special segment he calls “Manny on the Street”. I also have a personal blog that I run, Margeaux With The Flow, that shares Household Six content that has over 2500 followers on Instagram, proving that military spouses are complex, multi-faceted humans with lives as storied and interesting as our civilian counterparts!
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
Like I mentioned above, our mission at Household Six is to educate, empower, and encourage spouses to leave their duty stations better than they found them. For me, that is a two-fold statement. Sure, leave the actual duty station you are at better than when you arrived through your volunteer efforts, but also, I hope you as an individual leave a post better – more fulfilled, happier, more joyful, more yourself, than when you arrived. There is so much joy in being yourself and not a watered-down version of who you think you should be. I want to help spouses feel celebrated for their uniqueness, for their authenticity, and for their talents. And as always, I want to make sure they have the mental health resources they need. Life, and the military, is better with you in it.
Margo Shoaf has logged hundreds of hours in VMIS as an SFRG Leader, BN SFRG Advisor, Spouse’s Club Board Member, and more. Besides her in-person volunteer work, Margo maintains a personal blog, Margeaux with The Flow, where she works to normalize disabilities and encourage medical advocacy for self and others. She uses her personal experiences to provide educational and inspirational resources and concrete strategies for navigating medical services. She also shares insights about parenting, neurodiversity, military family life, and the strategies she uses to make her life more comfortable and accessible. In 2021, Margo was inspired to expand the milspouse support side of her online platform and approached me with an idea for a podcast that would empower and encourage military spouses while creating a welcoming and supportive community. Since then she has invested many hours in recording, editing, and creating content for our podcast, Household Six, reaching hundreds of spouses.
- by Kathleen Kent