Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Keesler Air Force Base
Number of Deployments: 0
Number of PCS's: 2
Share your military spouse story:
They say that your home tells your story. As I look around my house, I see that my story is intricately tied with IKEA furniture. When I became a military spouse, my husband had been at his first duty station less than a year. After meeting in high school, we dated long distance while I finished college, married shortly after I graduated, packed a few suitcases, and boarded a plane to England. Our first house was a blank slate. We had no furniture and no idea what to expect, but we were excited to finally build our life together. Ten years, four houses, and two kids later, we have assembled more IKEA furniture than I care to admit as I have learned to navigate life as a military spouse. We have pieced together communities as I’ve pieced together bookshelves. We have built our life at each base, then taken it apart to move to the next. The instructions were usually unclear. I rarely knew how pieces would fit together. I wanted to pull my hair out more than once. I made adjustments when a piece was missing. And despite all obstacles, we managed to build something reasonably functional that can survive a PCS.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
It is my hope that each military spouse would know that there is an open seat waiting for them, how to find it, and that they are welcomed and wanted. Accomplishing this has taken on many forms over the years, both formally and informally. In 2016, I served as the Vice President of PWOC while stationed at RAF Mildenhall where I was able to organize and facilitate Bible studies for over 100 women. Currently, I work as the executive assistant for the director of MilSpo Co., a Christian 501c3 non-profit organization, where we share the gospel with the military community and connect them with discipleship and community. Informally, it has often looked like inviting a new spouse for coffee, planning a playdate with a tired mom, or calling to check in on a friend whose spouse just left on deployment.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
As a new spouse, I experienced a season of loneliness and struggle to find meaningful friendships and a faith community. My answer was found through an advertisement for a women’s event at the base chapel. Terrified and alone, I walked into that building and immediately felt a sense of belonging. I was embraced into an open circle. The relationships formed there brought me the community I desperately needed. Throughout the years, I found that my struggle was not unique. As I began inviting my friends, I saw that the main difference in feeling welcomed was a saved seat. In 2021, I began volunteering with the Summoned Event Series by MilSpo Co., speaking on a panel about how local churches can foster relationships with military families. Now, as the first awardee of the Brooke Leona Mission Sending Scholarship, I am earning a Go Certificate through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and hope to continue creating spaces where others can find belonging.
Describe how you support your community:
Communities thrive when people engage with each other. Through being an active member in military spouse-led Bible studies, I connect with women in my community to form deep relationships, creating a support network where people can be transparent about their lives. Most Sundays, you will find me singing in our local church where I lead the congregation in worshiping through music. For Giving Tuesday Military, I took part in a mobile food pantry that provided food for over 50 military families. In all of these, I support our community by showing up and doing the work.
What do you advocate for? Why?
Invitation not isolation. Military families are almost always separated from their support system, and while there are some amazing programs and organizations that try to stand in the gap, they can feel inaccessible when someone is struggling and overwhelmed. I think every military spouse has been at the point where they are using all their energy to just make it through the day. We don’t always have the capacity to make the first call. We need people who have gone before to open the door and invite us in. When we are invited, we feel not just welcomed, but wanted. When we know that we are wanted, we feel like we belong. That is the difference a saved seat can make.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I believe that the most effective way to spread a message is by living it out daily. I do this by personally inviting people into the spaces in which I am involved and encouraging them to do the same for the next spouse. Additionally, I have been honored to share the impact and importance of welcoming people into redemptive communities through speaking on the military spouse panel during the Summoned Event Series by MilSpo Co. and in articles published by Military Spouse Magazine.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
If I am awarded the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title, I hope to encourage everyone in our community to remember the impact of simple actions and open circles. We often see large platforms making big changes and get discouraged that our actions are insignificant. Imposter syndrome sets in, and we fall victim to the lie that tells us if we can’t do big things, we can’t do anything. Our community would be drastically transformed if everyone took responsibility for doing what they can, where they are, big or small. Many hands make light work, and there is space for each one of us at the table.
Teri is a phenomenal ministry team leader and encourager. Her commitment to kindness, support, and advocacy is an inspiration for all of us in the military community. Her work as a core team leader at MilSpo Co. is impacting military missions and building solid relationships with local civilian communities. Teri is the first awardee of the Brook Leona Mission Sending Scholarship and MilSpo Co.'s leadership is beyond proud of her accomplishments.
- by Megan B. Brown