Duty Station: Not Affiliated With a Duty Station
Number of Deployments: 6
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
I'm a Navy (Submariner) spouse of 13 years, a working mother of 3, podcast host of Shine Sis Podcast and a passionate advocate. I've had to show resilience and strength my entire life. From becoming a teenage parent, to losing my mother after 6 months of being married, to raising my sister and cousin while trying to navigate the first year as a military spouse; while already carrying for my 2 kids under 3. I had to grow up faster than I wanted to but these challenges have not stop me from reaching my goals. Through the struggles of losing my identity, the daily sacrifices I have had to make, there's one thing that has remain constant--Walk by Faith and Not by Sight. While it may have and still is taking me longer to reach my goals, I'm a living testimony that it can still happen. As military spouses, we sometimes get consumed in tending to our kids and taking care of the Homefront, that we forget to take care of ourselves and be an individual outside of a wife and mother. My passion is rooted in not just advocating for those who have a hard time being heard but also inspiring spouses to go after their dreams.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Since becoming a military spouse, I've had several opportunities to showcase my leadership skills. I have coached 6u basketball teams through MWR. I have ran the homecoming committee and served as a FRG President for 2 consecutive years. I have also assisted with coaching for an all-spouse kickball league.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
My podcast, Shine Sis, focuses on shining light on other military spouses while also encouraging like-minded women to find their purpose in life. The main goal is showing spouses that they are more than a "military spouse" and they do not have to live in the shadows of their service member. Aside from being a podcaster, I serve on the Advisory Board for the Military Family Network (MFAN) where I am able to share my experiences and what I'm hearing in my community to help bring awareness and alleviate changes within the military community. I also volunteer for a nonprofit organization called Partners in PROMISE (PIP), where we are dedicated to protecting the rights of military children in special education through advocacy.
Describe how you support your community:
I’m an Policy Officer at Partners in PROMISE, an organization led by military spouses who share their firsthand insights of the difficulties in special education with military children. In addition to ensuring our community is informed on these issues, we also educate high-level legislators. As an Advisory Board Member with MFAN, we help connect military families to the resources, people, and information they depend on so they can successfully navigate all phases of their military life.
What do you advocate for? Why?
As a parent of a child with ADHD, it is my passion to ensure EFMP military connected children receive the level of support and care they deserve. I use my story to motivate and empower other spouses by informing them & advocating to help create a better experience for military families; through the engagement from my podcast and local community.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Advocating with PIP led me to visit the Capitol to meet with defense fellows to help push clauses to be added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Exceptional Family Member Program. As an Advisory Board Member with MFAN, I was able to take additional steps to help gather solutions from military families in response to the Red Hill Water Contamination Crisis we endured.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
If giving the opportunity, I hope that my story will inspire other spouses to achieve their dreams & find their space within the Military life. I hope that my level of advocacy will be able to reach and open doors in places where our voices need to be heard. The possibilities and opportunities that come from being awarded the AFIMSOY Title would be beneficial to not just me but to the amount of spouses and military families I could reach, in order to connect and help create change within our Military community.
I want to nominate Mary Monrose for AFI Military SOY. As a Navy Spouse, Mary epitomizes the journey & success of a military spouse. She inspires. Mary inspires many women to achieve their dreams & find their space within the Military life. She uses HER story to motivate Spouses. Her journey of triumph, from joining motherhood at a young age to completing her MA in Law, speaks to so many. Mary empowers Military spouses by informing them & advocating to help create a better experience for military families. She engages with spouses through her podcast, Shine Sis Podcast. She has a desire to speak up for those who are rarely heard & to inspire spouses to go after their dreams. Mary advocates through her volunteer services as a Policy Officer for Partners in Promise & as a MFAN Advisory Board Member. She’s a proud advocate for the rights of children in special education & has worked with elected officials to ensure these rights are upheld. Mary has excelled in her role as a military spouse
- by Candus Griffin
Mary is a Navy spouse and working mom of three amazing kids. Currently stationed with her family in Hawaii, Mary has shown remarkable resiliency and strength as they experienced the Red Hill water contamination emergency that began in 2021. She shared experiences from her community through her role as a member of the Military Family Advisory Network Advisory Board and took additional steps to gather solutions from military families in response to the crisis. Mary currently works in the legal field, but is also volunteers a Policy Officer for Partners in Promise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of military children in special education. As a parent of a child with ADHD, Mary is passionate about ensuring EFMP military connected children receive the level of support and care they deserve. Mary’s grit knows no bounds and shows us that with the right attitude, there’s no challenge we can’t overcome.
- by Sheena Parrish