Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
Number of Deployments: 1
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
I met my husband Zac in highschool. Once we were together I knew immediately I wanted to marry him. December of 2011 we got married at 18 years old and on my 19 birthday I took a plane ride by myself to Minot, ND to our first duty station. It was hard being a young couple but we made it through and in 2013 we welcomed our first son Colt into the world. In 2014 we became pregnant with our second son Malachi and while I was 6 months pregnant Zac was deployed to Afghanistan. Heart broken, I decided to go back to Arizona to be with family to birth our second child but our sweet dog bear would not get in a crate, so myself Colt, Bear, and Malachi (in the belly) drove through snow storms and mountains for 27 hours to reach Arizona. We had a healthy, quick birth; with my husband on Skype. We returned to North Dakota to welcome Zac home when Mali was 3 months old and it was wonderful. Returning to work after R&R Zac discovered he had orders to Korea for year tour and he would be leaving the day our second son turned 9 months old. Although life was hard, getting to be with my husband, it has always been worth it. I have made so many life long friends and have treasured every moment. We had received orders for Guam and Zac was not able to return to help pack. The boys stayed in AZ while I took one week in ND to pack up, clean, and move out of on base housing. Then driving to California with kids in tow to ship our vehicle. Guam was a wonderful and getting to help others with watching kids, cooking food, or just someone to listen built strong relationships. we welcomed our beautiful daughter Raiya in 2019. We are now at Davis-Monthan AFB and I have enjoyed becoming a key spouse to be involved in all areas of the CE squadron and do whatever I can to help the families, pets, and clean homes for not only CE but any of our neighbors or friends who may need a helping hand. I truly do love being a military spouse and the strength it gives me as a wide, mother, and friend.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I am currently a key spouse for the CE squadron. I helped coordinate Christmas gift bags for children of deployed parents while providing emotional and physical support to the spouses. Continued support has been given to the families through offering meals, resources, and resiliency skills introduction. The resources include offering transportation of children to and from school/ extra curricular activities, house cleaning support, and pet sitting while emergencies or vacations take place. Inspiring other spouses to join the key spouse program to grow support and dedication for the squadron. Exhibiting a strong academic dedication by continuing my college education has helped support and lead other spouses in their drive to pursue their own education degree while also providing information and resources to help them through the process. I donated homemade baked goods for the squadron auction to help fundraise for official squadron events and needs.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I strive to be involved as much as possible in our military community as much as I can. Each base we have lived at I have always greeted and welcomed new neighbors with a plate of cookies and introductions to let them know they have a friend and help as soon as they come to base. I have made welcome baskets for incoming families, prepared meals, and cleaned homes for anyone who needs it. I was the team mom for my sons baseball team here on base and have participated in key spouse events like trunk or treat, Christmas treats for the deployed families, help with the Christmas party, and pushing to build a strong family relationship here on base. I recently just helped pack and clean my neighbors home while he was away for the emergency birth of his child since his wife was away and he is preparing for Korea. I also serve food at Halloween and serve Thanksgiving to all. I do my very best to be involved in all aspects of our military community and the needs of the families and airman.
Describe how you support your community:
I support my community on the base level, squadron level, and even the little cul-de-sac I proudly live in. I provide support to the bases military families by being the team mom for the bases youth baseball team, providing snacks, rides, and advocating parents to get more involved in base events. On a squadron level, I helped new incoming families with welcoming them with welcome baskets that included home essentials and base resources. I also provided a thanksgiving dinner and family environment for families and Airmen that needed a place to go that could make it back home. Then locally in my little cul-de-sac and neighborhood I provided support to military families by greeting everyone with a warm greeting and even warmer cookies. The biggest impact was helping clean and packing my neighbors home while the mother that was in labor with their first child and the active duty member had emergency orders overseas. Helping provide support during a very stressful time in their life.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for inclusivity, making sure support, resources and knowledge is provided for families with families members in Exceptional Family Members Program (EFMP). No matter the rank or status all information should be provided in a quick and easy setting before, during, and after a PCS. Personal knowledge includes the difficulties with regards to referrals with Tricare and the issues surrounding PCS orders when EFMP impacts certain bases. I advocate for accessibility regarding EFMP because when receiving orders to Japan, our order were delayed and overall cancelled due to uncertainty the base resources and facilities could accommodate our families additional needs.This process was lengthy and we did not have someone with the knowledge of the resources that could have been provided to help us get though the process with ease. Families need someone that advocates for the resources that are available to them especially when it comes to additional needs in the EFMP.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I choose to spread the message of a strong family community by getting out there and talking with others directly. I hand our business cards with my name and number for any key spouse issues as well. I get out by meeting at the park, BX, or even on a walk to make sure everyone knows that I would happily be a friend if they need one. For Christmas I helped make cards for the airmen in the dorm to let them know they are loved, cherished, and never alone. I am also an admin on the key spouse Facebook page to help spread awareness on events and get together's. No one should be alone because we are in this life together and sticking together is what builds a strong bond and family. To advocate for a strong a strong and healthy military bond, while also helping the relationship between family and squadron.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
With the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title, I plan to continue providing support to military families, providing them with support with children, resources, and helping them through the difficulty of living an active duty members life style while also enjoying the benefits of a strong and loving community. Giving other military families the love and support they require during everyday life, PCS's, Deployments, and everything else that comes up in life. While the title would be a true honor, advocating and supporting military spouses is something that I do because every military family needs the support of their community, squadron, and base.
Marissa has a heart for family, a love for military spouses, and a building of the military community. She is a fantastic USAF Key Spouse with lots of wisdom to share. Marissa is an outstanding volunteer in her squadron as well.
- by April Golden