Catherine Johnson

Branch: Army

Duty Station: USAG Rheinland- Pfalz

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 7

Share your military spouse story:
The ever-daunting mountain climbing of life can also transform into mountain moving with faith, trust, and great people that “Got Your 6”. As early on as boot camp, I experienced demoralizing difficulties as an older-than-most minority female. Between my stature, facial features, native New Yorker accent, long thick hair, and wit, I was already counted out as a recycle. I felt the pressure to chop off my hair, alter my accent, and struggle to keep up with males that tripled my size. I was encouraged to quit daily by female drill sergeants and my peers. From my first overseas assignment and forward, I have experienced sexism, racism, and sexual harassment on a large scale. As a disabled veteran with physical and invisible wounds, I operated at a disadvantage among spouses who serve their communities with more outward engagements and fewer limitations. I have faced the challenges of reintegrating after lengthy separations from deployment, training, and cyclical TDYs. I’ve learned how to support from the rear and sustain healthy relationships. I’ve moved my career goals aside and educated myself in innumerable subjects in and between times of stability. I have learned how to laugh, ways to cry, and who to reach out to, and I have found comfort in my community’s shared belief in adapting and flourishing in a military lifestyle, especially overseas. But today, I am stronger than I have ever been. My faith in God was the most significant factor in moving mountains while my support system shouldered my burdens, lifted me, and encouraged me through testing times.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
As an active participant in Senior Leader Conferences, forums, and monthly meetings, I have the privilege to advocate for the concerns of the community and company-level spouses. By spearheading activities and collaborating on military-related functions, I strive to positively impact the lives of those around me. I have been honored to be a guest speaker, inspiring others with my experiences and insights. Some of my greatest assets are the ability to engage, follow through, sincerity in what I say and do, loyalty, open-mindedness, and empowering others.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
Command Team, Senior Spouse Advisor SFRG, Primary Advisor PTSA, volunteer Community Spouses Club, member Operation Allies Refuge (OAR) and Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), volunteer I am always excited to interact with junior soldiers and their families in private and public settings, such as unit events, ceremonies, and daily lives. It's heartwarming to see that many of these junior service members are around the same age as my two oldest children. Being a positive figure for them while they are far from home gives me hope and a sense of peace that, I pray, my children will experience the same.

Describe how you support your community:
I enjoy interacting with people from different backgrounds and believe in being an active community member. To achieve this, I organize various social events such as coffee meet-ups, participate in community gatherings and host nation celebrations, attend leadership forums, welcome and bid farewell to transitioning soldiers and their families, prepare and serve meals to soldiers, initiate meal trains for spouses in need, and act as a liaison between the Battalion Command Team and company-level spouses.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I firmly believe in the power of mentorship among women. By bridging the generational gap, we can nurture mental, emotional, and spiritual growth, empowering future mothers, spouses, friends, and colleagues with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive, especially in military culture. Unfortunately, many women lack a strong female role model. However, through mentorship programs, we can help shape the next generation of confident and empowered women who will continue to pass on these valuable lessons for generations to come. Military life can be challenging, but it also presents an opportunity to develop confidence, resilience, and coping skills that can last a lifetime.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
As someone who has dedicated over two decades in the military, as an active-duty soldier, disabled veteran, DoD civilian, and active-duty Army spouse, I understand the unique challenges of this way of life. Cultivating resilience and a heart to serve requires education and practice. Over time, I have learned the “how to, when to, and what to” from those who came before me, which has equipped me for each season of life. These relationships and lessons have inspired me to pay it forward. As trust is earned, I intentionally foster intimate group settings and host various socials to “check the pulse.” I connect people with others who share similar values, and many are eager to nourish and cultivate their newfound friendships.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
The title of AFI Military Spouse of the Year would be an honor, and I would accept it on behalf of all the unsung heroes. These are the “Household 6” quiet professionals who work behind the scenes to support our communities. These extraordinary individuals voluntarily share their time, finances, experiences, and shoulders to lean on, as well as donations and support our brave service members and their families. This collective “W” is for those who hold down the fort, are the glue in their communities, and enable their service member to serve their country with hope and peace of mind. This lifestyle is indeed grand, and it is only possible because of the collaborative efforts of all those involved. Their incredible contributions should not go unnoticed.


Catherine provides a voice for spouses at a small base like Baumholder. She makes sures that issues, such as lack of baby clothes available for purchase at the PX, are brought to light. Baumholder families that live on-post may only have one vehicle or one working spouse and it can be difficult to access off-base shops and offices, so things like the aforementioned lack of baby clothes at a px may not seem like a large deal....but they are. She works with the SFRG to host spouse nights so that isolated spouses feel seen and heard and have a community in a place where English isn't the first language and extended family and friends are located on another continent.
- by Tamala Malerk