Emily Schmidt

Branch: National Guard

Duty Station: Fort Novosel

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 2

Share your military spouse story:
Though I was not raised in a military family, my parents made sure that I was respectful of the flag and assured that I understood the sacrifice that came with it. With that came always making sure that I thanked any service member I have seen in passing, whether on active duty or retired. I met my now husband in college in 2013, right after he got home from basic. He caught my eye because he was in uniform, so I thanked him for his service. However, when I got close, I realized how attractive he was. Let’s say the rest is history. Ten years of being a military girlfriend, fiancé, or wife teaches you a lot. It teaches you to resolve, independence, faithfulness, and empathy on a different level. I am very proud of my husband’s dedication to the Army National Guard through his enlisted career as a satellite communication specialist and now his warrant officer career as a helicopter pilot. I would be lying if I said that every moment has been an easy ride, as even though there are not frequent PCSs, he has completed many trainings and other certifications that have meant a lot of time apart. However, my love for my husband is next to none, and because of that time apart, our communication, time management, mutual respect, and teamwork have grown. This is showcased right now, as he is training out of state for a year to become a helicopter pilot. I am excited to see where his military career will take us and how we can collaboratively to impact the military community positively.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
When my husband became the AGR with the 58th Troop Command (TC) stationed in Adelphi, Maryland, I actively inquired about acclimating to their FRG team, which had no active FRG. When I contacted their unit's Soldier Family Readiness Specialist, Nycholle Woolfolk-Gater, she fully empowered me to embrace the FRG lead position. Through that position, I have been able to collaborate with Brigade command and carry our mutual vision. I am a key stakeholder in the planning, implementation, and logistics of multiple family days for the 58th TC. These events have been monumental in promoting family togetherness and connection. They entail collaborating with local businesses to provide food, games, and entertainment for better morale. We collaborated with Heroes on the Water, which used fishing and kayaking for military relaxation and rehabilitation. Also, as this unit is stationed in Maryland, I facilitated a crab feast for the military and their dependents through the community's generosity.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have been involved in family readiness since 2016, when my husband deployed with the 29th ID. I started as the treasurer of the FRG group but transitioned into the FRG lead. With this unit, I made weekly phone calls to deployed service members, spouses, and other points of contact to check in and answer any questions or concerns they might have. When the yellow ribbons came around for the deployment, I sat at the FRG table for the event, offering resources and a listening ear for the families as service members. When my husband became an AGR, I learned that no FRG was active within the unit. I have collaborated with the Command to put on family readiness days and helped facilitate dining out. I have come to multiple drill weekends to advocate for the FRG program and meet with the leadership to discuss their vision and mission. Moreover, I am honored to work alongside soldiers in my day-to-day life as a nurse at my local military installation, where I advocate daily for soldiers.

Describe how you support your community:
While the FRG is something I am incredibly proud of, this is not the only thing I have done. For approximately 11 years, I was involved with a non-profit, which went onto North Avenue in Baltimore, served hot food, and handed out clothes to the less fortunate. There were times that we handed out over 400 hotdogs and 200 hamburgers. I have been a co-leader in my church community, serving with other women to create and maintain the women's ministry. Through that, we organize internal and external events as a way of fellowship and serving. We often team up with a women’s shelter to minister to them and fundraise with them. Our whole church is an active mission member and has often joined with them for construction or other ministry needs.

What do you advocate for? Why?
Guard soldiers and their spouses are often required to live double lives and are often not as privy to the knowledge of the available resources. While I by no means discount the experiences active-duty soldiers hold, the National Guard must live double lives. They are often less informed than their active-duty counterparts because of the infrequency of drills or living close to an instillation where the resources are located. Information is often lost in the chain of command, and sometimes spouses do not hear about local events. I have often found it hard to get my foot in the door as an FRG when coming to the command team because of the other pressing issues they must push out to their soldiers. While I respect that there is more critical information, the family unit and spouse buy-in allows the soldier to accomplish the mission better. Home life is instrumental, making family readiness and resiliency something that, while not seen to be necessary on the surface, fundamental.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Often, advocacy is complex, especially in the National Guard. Soldiers come one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year, and during that time, they often cram in briefs, paperwork, and other training exercises to maintain competency. I have come to many drill weekends and often waited around all day attempting to speak to the commander and the leadership team. I have been able to advocate at specific briefings. Advocacy is about living by example, so I attend all family events and ensure I am present and respectfully vocal to the leadership team. I have found that when I am persistent and passionate and can get the command backing, I can get the soldiers to buy in. With the soldiers come the family members. Alongside other members of the FRG leadership, I help make sure that our unit-specific Facebook group is active in posting the latest information and resources for spouses, including education, job opportunities, and local social events to encourage involvement.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
As cliché as this sounds, I want to use this honor to light a flame. I want to utilize this platform to advocate for our National Guardsmen and their families. I want to use this to make resources more available for our military and their families. To have a network of strong FRG leadership across the country to stand with our families and be there to help support them. They need the resources to pour into their unit's family cup. The fact is, the soldier is only as strong as their support system. Many times, while I talk to commanders about the importance of family readiness and resiliency, it often falls on deaf ears. With this backing behind me, I can be louder for those who cannot be.


I am the SFRS with the Maryland Army National Guard. Emily Schmidt has been a pillar with several of Units here at the MDARNG for freeing support and service to our service members and their families. She offers support, guidance to those service members spouses that are deploying as well as those that are stationary. She is an asset that has unit and I am honored to nominate her.
- by Nycholle Woolfolk-Gater