Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Ellsworth Air Force Base
Number of Deployments: 3
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
In 13 years my husband has been enlisted, full-time guard, and now active officer. In 09 my husband enlisted and we already shared two children. We were a young couple off for a quick tour to pay for college, get medical insurance, and be a part of something bigger. We entered and needless to say it was a culture shock. Everyone shared "you knew what you were getting into." You don't. Until you are in it, you don't know. I was distant from it. My husband wore the uniform. I did not. This almost broke our marriage. This is not a journey you can go into thinking “oh it's just my spouse is in the military.” It affects the whole family. This took almost two years and many tears to realize. It was a change in mindset, the one that says this is our journey, that truly changed the direction of our family, our marriage, and ultimately our lives. I began to get involved. Volunteering at events on base, in schools, church, etc. I worked up to being a key spouse supporting squadrons and their families. This change helped me to build a community that I never knew existed. Through many tears and lots of laughter, I built a family that has supported and strengthened our journey through short-notice deployments, reintegrations, PCSs, and transitions. This journey has grown two inspiring military brats continuing to spread this love. This journey has fostered our marriage in God and our mission to give back to the military. The military has set us up for master’s degrees in divinity and in counseling specializing in trauma, marriage, and family; allowing us to strengthen our military and families. We do not take these opportunities lightly and understand the enormous blessing they are. We understand that the military fostered our journey so that we can turn around and bless others. The military gave us a bigger purpose than we could have ever envisioned as those teenage parents that joined. My husband’s four-year enlistment became our family’s lifetime of joy, purpose, and family.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have had many leadership opportunities throughout this journey with the Air Force. Each squadron has a key spouse team to come around them and help support them and their families. This allows Airman to focus on their mission. I have had the honor to build a team from the ground up, be a key spouse mentor, and be part of a key spouse team. I have gotten to train commanders and their spouses on the importance of the key spouse program and the difference it can make. I have gotten the opportunity to lead many briefings on resiliency, mental health, family support, youth in the military, and more. I have been a lead coordinator and teacher for children's events across the base. I have even started clubs such as Youth in Cahoots, a community service group for kids. I have been able to lead spouse support events, be the spouses club president, and even lead community action events to gain resources needed around our bases. The Air Force is an amazing community that welcomes involvement.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
In 13 years I have been able to be involved often. Currently I have the honor of being involved as a resident council advocate, Key Spouse, Booster Club member, Children’s Church coordinator and teacher, Military Spouse Advocacy Network Deployment and Reintegration Advocate, Jr. Rotc Parent Group President, Licensed Professional Counselor working with our military youth and families, and other continuous community volunteer work.
Describe how you support your community:
We as military families are typically not living near our “born-into family.” We are each other's families. Through covid, there were many times families would post through social media that they were stuck at home ill and unable to leave for food, meds, etc. We were able to come together and bring the items needed. In the big Air Force, there was a situation at a base where a military man lost his wife right after giving birth to their child. His wife’s goal was to breastfeed and he wanted to honor that. I was able to collaborate with moms on my base that were breastfeeding and willing to donate their milk to this family. We were able to collect an entire cooler full of packaged and frozen breast milk and ship it to this family in need. This is a community, this is the support needed in order for our military members to be successful in their mission, and this is what I live to do for my community. Recognize the gaps and bridge them so that not one person falls through the cracks.
What do you advocate for? Why?
Reconnection, strengthening families, psychoeducation on mental health for our families, education of generational and vicarious trauma, and multi-generational social skills building. With the economy, families are overworking and missing out on time with each other. Working to strengthen them is key. Psychoeducation can equip them with the tools needed to find their way of coping, communication, and support. It is important to educate our families on multigenerational and vicarious trauma. Research shows we pass down our trauma to our kids and we can absorb others' trauma meaning we are more at risk of absorbing this trauma than ever before due to social media. This education will allow for tools to be put into place to protect our already vulnerable military members and their families. Finally, our military is made up of multiple generations. We must help these different generations to connect. These barriers could be what keep our military missions from being effective.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
It is important to advocate through everything you do. With every conversation, presentation, and work that I do, I advocate for these needs, our military members, and our families. I advocate through action. I recognize needs and work to meet them. I recognize gaps and work to bridge them. I work to understand prevention and proactive paths rather than choosing to be reactive. I am going for my doctorate where I will be able to conduct my research. I hope to understand how to recognize preventative measures to help strengthen our families and marriages so that if trauma occurs and PTSD becomes present in any of the family members they can still stand together and overcome it. I continue to create environments and events that showcase the messages that I advocate for. I am a big believer in actions speaking louder than words, therefore I choose to live my life as a platform to spread my messages, kindness, and a reminder that life is beautiful and should not be wasted.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I hope to collaborate with all the other inspiring spouses so that we can become united to fight one fight. Every story is different. Every branch, active, guard, and/or reserved is different. Resources are different and we have people falling through the cracks; adults and children. My journey has shown just how different the focus and resources are. I see how big a gap there is for our guard families and gaps caused for different branch members stationed at different branches' installations. I have seen firsthand major gaps in the system that is built to support our military and families. I would love for all of us to collaborate across the big military so that we make sure no person is forgotten. This is especially important now in a time when our military and families are looking like they never have before. We are in a transitional time and whether we are nominated at the base level or branch level we can all work together to reconnect postcovid and bridge the gaps we are facing.
Since arriving at Ellsworth AFB, Monica has made it her mission to grow the ties between military spouses/dependents and active duty members. She has put in countless hours rebuilding the community and making connections with the other military spouses. She has also gone above and beyond in connecting the local community with the base community. She bridged the gap between the local JrROTC program and the base community, by having the participate in base events. She is all around a great spouse and puts the needs of her community above the needs of herself.
- by Jacob Fosberg