Branch: Marine Corps
Duty Station: Marine Corps Air Station New River
Number of Deployments: 4
Number of PCS's: 6
Share your military spouse story:
While today, I am the proud spouse of an active-duty Marine, and am very passionate about the beauty of your military tribe, I was not always that way. At a young age, I was married to another service member and it was not as beautiful of an experience. When I met my husband today, I refused to date him. To me, military life was isolating and dark and I lacked the resources and knowledge for help. Gary, my husband, was relentless in his pursuit to convince me that, in reality, the military community with the proper resources is one of the most extraordinary communities, it's your family, and it is one of the most beautiful experiences. Please do not send this to him; I will deny I wrote this, but he was right. He was entirely correct. With the proper resources, programs, and community involvement, military life is one of the most fulfilling incredible experiences. One of my favorite quotes is from Robin Roberts "make your mess, your message." While the traumas in my pervious marriage were trying, I genuinely think it was fate's twisted plan so, that I could help others. I have become a resource, I have dedicated my life to making my mess, my message. I am passionate about the USO and its mission because I know what isolation in the military community can feel like. I never want another person to feel that if I can help it. I know a simple hug can change the trajectory of someone's day. Programs that build up the spouse community aid in combating those feelings of isolation and combat that feeling of missing home. Programs and resources that benefit our service members' way of life directly benefit the force's readiness. Missions like the USO are essential to our service members and their families; they can change the trajectory of someone's life. I am a direct example of the invauable benefits of the USO and other federal and non-federal entities provide. Being forwarded the opportunity to support my community in such a large way is one of the greatest honors.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
When I took over the leadership position for the USO Coastal Area, we had just lost our building due to structural damages and we were still operating in a covid environment, and the odds were against me as a leader and the team. Instead of allowing these obstacles to stop our support or our mission, I lead the team of incredible volunteers and my one staff member forward. We had to recreate the wheel, pivot, and then pivot again, yet I refused to give up as a leader and we chugged forward. Under my leadership, we have grown our operational support by 200 percent in two years. Giving up was never an option, regardless of circumstances. I understood that the path was not easy but our community was counting on us to be creative and for me to lead with grace and dignity regardless of the circumstances afforded to the Coastal Team. I am honored by the work our team did and does; as we look toward the future, I know we will continue surpassing expectations in support.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
My work at the USO directly affects the quality of life for our service members and their spouses in the Coastal NC area. In some cases, to the civilian community, a simple lounge that a smiling volunteer runs can seem like a mundane necessity. To a service member away from home and their family, that volunteer is their grandmother, their sense of familiarity, a warm hug, and more. Programs that build resiliency and leadership assist in the growth of leaders in the force and provide lasting skills that will carry onto the civilian world after their time serving our great nation. I am honored that my career allows me to serve my community in this big way. I am a huge advocate in the community in the battle to end domestic violence. I always have my coffee pot on and my door open. In the community, I am known as someone you can count on and will go above and beyond to assist anyone.
Describe how you support your community:
My current role as the Center Manager for the USO North Carolina Coastal Area gives me the honor to create, communicate, and provide essential support and facilities for our service members. As a military spouse who had to start and restart her career, juggle life and birth deployments, combat the struggles, and still thrive, I know firsthand the necessity of proper resources, community events, and programs that build resiliency. I have witnessed firsthand how impactful the simplest hug, a cup of coffee, and a bag of chips can be to someone who just needs a safe place to sit down for a moment. I have worked closely with other community organizations to serve our service members, such as the Military Affairs Committee with the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. I also use my personal connections within the community to aid families In need, ensuring that no family in an emergency situation struggles within our community. I am honored to serve our community daily.
What do you advocate for? Why?
Advocating to ensure the best quality of life for service members and their families is my biggest passion. My career with the USO forwards me the opportunity to execute, prepare, and manage support that provides various resilency and community building opportunities. I work hard to understand and advocate for programs and services that ensure families and service members have the best opportunities afforded to them from not only the USO but, also with other federal and non-federal entities. Community building opportunities and programs offered through the USO directly connect service members to family, home, and country. Working with community partners as well off the installation for opportunities for service members and their families helps create a sense of home and connection to their new roots. I also an advocate for mental health resources on and off installations, as well as a huge advocate in the fight to end domestic violence.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
During my time for Toys-for-Tots we were short a few hundred toys towards the end of our campaign. It was stark. I used my connections within the community to rally everyone on the installation and seventy-two hours later not only did we have enough toys, we had a surplus. The surplus was taken to Maui via an Osprey on a humanitarian mission. Thus created the first ever Toys-for-Tots support to Maui. In times when military families have been in need, I have used my own personal status within community to rally crucial support to those families. Within the USO, I am consistently communicating effectly with commands, via our social channels, in resource fairs, and within the spouse community to ensure knowledge of the programs and services we provide. I am afforded the ability to work closely daily with the active-duty and local civial community organizations to serve our military community. I also serve on the Military Affairs Commitee with the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I would advocate for the needs of federal and non-federal support entities and the invaluable programs they provide. These programs are imperative to the quality of life aboard installations. The nomination for this platform is not something I take lightly and I am very honored to be considered. I would use this platform to work with others in our community to work to understand the need for quality-of-life programs in our communities. I would also use this platform to educate others on the importance of these programs and their direct correlation to community building and positive effects on mental health. I would also be a strong advocate in the effort to end domestic violence. I believe our military community is resilient and the most incredible worldwide family. These programs and services that support the growth, connections, and resiliency directly assist with the quality of life for service members and their families across all installations.
Megan is a proud Marine Corps Spouse. During her time at the USO, Megan led the team to grow the number of service members and families served by over 150%. This is remarkable as this was during a pandemic AND with no permanent location. Her love for the Marine Corps community is the driving factor in her success. Megan is an advocate for mental health and holds a Mental Health Ally Certificate, thanks to the MSAN program she attended. She is also an ally in the fight to end domestic violence.
Megan uses her story of survival to empower others in our community and to initiate change where needed, as she loves to quote Robin Roberts "make your mess, your message." Megan is a friend who never met a stranger she couldn't comfort, relate to, or bring a smile to their face. She's a leader in the community, a dedicated friend, has a beautiful soul and embodies what a leader in our community is. Her proudest accomplishment is her two children and her marriage.
- by julie soares