Elizabeth McGarity

Branch: Navy

Duty Station: USCG Washington, DC

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 1

Share your military spouse story:
As a granddaughter of a Veteran, daughter of a Veteran, wife of a Veteran and mother of a Veteran my love for the US Military is innate. My high school sweetheart and I got married in college while he was serving as an Enlisted Marine in the USMC Reserves. Years later we felt the calling to re-enter the military, this time as a Navy Chaplain. We chose to pursue the Navy Reserves because he was the Lead Pastor of a church we planted in 2011 and we were deeply involved in the small community we had been living in since being newlyweds in 1999. While in the reserves my husband, Matt, presided over 280 military funerals, the opportunities for our family to lean in and engage the military grew, our love for coming alongside of marriages in the military and to assist in their success and longevity was evident. We thrived serving in the Reserves because we felt it was the best of both worlds…full-time Pastoral Church ministry and Ministry to the Military. In 2021 Matt was mobilized for 7 months, followed by another set of active duty orders in 2022 to serve as a Chaplain at MCRD-PI. Our family moved temporarily during the orders and we were steeped into active duty military ministry. During this time we began discerning our heart to pursue moving from reserves to active duty. It was very clear our experience, passion and duty was to commit to serve in active duty after seeing all the ways we were able to help the families during our time on orders. We transitioned to active duty this year! Our family is currently in DC and Matt is serving with the USCG-HQ. It has been full of change and the emotions that come with change but the military has come around us helping ease the transition and we are excited to continue doing ministry full time within the military community. Previously in the reserves it was church ministry and ministry to the military. Now those two have combined and we are ready for what this new calling and adventure may hold.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
An example of my leadership experience within the military community is displayed by my heart for servant leadership. For me it has been just living life alongside of military spouses, showing up. The ministry of presence at times, listening ear, and offering wise counsel. I have enjoyed leading Family Day Picnics, organizing Family Easter Egg Hunts, Christmas Parties and Unit Cook-Outs. In times of need I led the vision of an assistance ministry when food stability was a concern for young military families and assisted in diaper and baby formula donations. I have organized and led Bible Study groups and Prayer groups for Military installations. I am actively involved in multiple Spouse’s Clubs. This holiday season our local club did a holiday gift drive to assist local military families struggling during the holidays. I am excited to grow in ways to serve military families here in DC but also know sometimes that is just showing up, ready to serve or lead in any capacity.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
My involvement in the military community has grown over the years. From the early days of an enlisted Marine’s spouse to now serving families through Navy Chaplaincy. I have enjoyed casting vision for mentorship between more seasoned military spouses and newer military spouses. We all have so much to learn from one another and our experiences. I have had the privilege of coming under the care of a more experienced military spouse and I have loved mentoring younger spouses. Add that to my all-around involvement in the military community be it in the reserve component and active duty component.

Describe how you support your community:
Having a generational love for the military I naturally want to support the military community. This was transformational when one of our sons joined the Marine Corps and is currently serving. As a Chaplains spouse I have always looked at my involvement as a higher calling, but when your child becomes a service member things shift a bit. You want to do more making it possibly a better military experience by creating more opportunities to enrich the lives of military families. In February Matt and I will begin leading Marriage Enrichment classes at our base Chapel. I am mentoring a few younger military spouses. Pouring my knowledge and hope for a healthier military home life into the ladies I am mentoring. I will continue to jump in and show up in the military community we are committed to serving knowing our small impact can lead to a better military for the next generation of service members.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for military family wholeness through spouse mentorship and marriage enrichment. In the many years of military sacrifice, I have seen and lived I am aware of the results of service to our country. Our families are on the sacrificing end most of the time which affects our homes, marriages and children. We have five children and know the stressors of just normal family life. I foresee mentorship between spouses as a support tool in which we can come alongside of one another sharing in joy and in times of need. Offering a safe space to share, to comfort and to uphold each other. Matt & I also advocate for healthy marriages in the military community knowing that marriage is a foundation for family wholeness. We have seen marriages changed and restored by mentorship, counseling, bible studies, community groups and marriage enrichment classes.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have personally platformed the advocacy for mentorship and marriage growth within all commands we have been assigned. We have been involved with getting couples to attend CREDO weekends. I utilize social media, have written and spoken on advocating for family wholeness through mentorship and marriage enrichment. One unique part of being a Navy Chaplain is you have the opportunity to serve military families from the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. We have had the honor to serve with assignments to the Marine Corps, Naval Special Warfare, and currently the Coast Guard. This allows for a broader reach and to make an impact for mentorship and family wholeness. I am leading this from the front as I am actively involved in living this out in my day to day.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I hope to encourage family wholeness through marriage enrichment and continue to grow a military spouse mentorship program that allows spouses to come alongside of each other. We all have different paths and stories during our careers in the military. We should be using those to encourage and equip one another for a healthier generation of military marriages and homes. I desire to see deeper connections between spouses with more intentionality. I would like to make additional connections within the military spouse community and know this title would offer opportunities for new relationships and possible resources through those connections. Additionally, it would offer a platform to advocate for family wholeness through an awareness of current programs offered to service members and families but by personally creating an expectation of hope and excitement of family unity through mentorship and marriage enrichment.


It gives me great pleasure to nominate Elizabeth McGarity to be considered for the recognition Coast Guard Military Spouse of the Year. Her tireless efforts and outstanding leadership in our military community has not gone unnoticed. She is not alone a military spouse but a mom of a Marine. Over the years, Elizabeth has helped many military service members, their families and supported the religious ministry in the Marine Corps and Coast Guard community. Elizabeth has a servant heart who is always willing to step up and raise her hand to help others.
- by Miles for the Heart