Mandi McCullion

Branch: Space Force

Duty Station: Osan Air Base

Number of Deployments: 6

Number of PCS's: 10

Share your military spouse story:
My Guardian Spouse story begins in 2007 in the quiet town of Freeport, Florida; a single mom seeking stability for my young daughter. Fate intervened, introducing me to a man in uniform who would become the love of my life and forever alter the course of my journey. The child of a retired military family attempting to build stability in my life, I wasn't seeking a relationship with anyone in the military. I soon discovered the uniqueness of military spouse life—a world of discipline, honor, and sacrifice. Embracing military life's uniqueness, I delved into the adventure of being a military spouse. His dedication to service became our shared commitment to positively influence military communities. As we navigated the challenges of military life together, I discovered the profound significance of his service. The military wasn't just a job; it was a calling, a commitment to protect and serve our nation. The 533d Training Squadron marked my initiation into the tight-knit “space spouse” community, where unity prevailed amid sacrifice and challenges. This journey led me to meaningful connections within community youth organizations, sparking a passion for supporting military children. Actively engaged in youth initiatives, I advocated for the well-being of resilient young souls, aiming to nurture belonging and stability. Through these interactions, I not only discovered the power of community but also witnessed firsthand the positive impact that collective support can have on the lives of our military children. Reflecting on our seven assignments as a military family, I am grateful for the enduring strength of love, family, and the unwavering spirit defining the military community. My Guardian Spouse story is one of resilience, unity, and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of military families.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
In my pursuit to foster inclusion and support within the community, one notable leadership endeavor stands out - the establishment of the first-ever Guardian Spouses program across three distinct USSF organizations in Korea. Recognizing the need for a community platform, I embarked on a mission to build a network that would transcend organizational boundaries and provide a sense of belonging for spouses in the burgeoning USSF community overseas. Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, I persevered in building connections, navigating the limitations to bring spouses together. Through strategic collaboration and tireless efforts, the Guardian Spouses program emerged as a beacon of support, fostering camaraderie and resilience among military families. This leadership initiative exemplifies my dedication to community building and reflects the skills necessary to envision a future where overseas military families thrive in shared experiences and a strong sense of unity.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
My deep commitment to enhancing the lives of military families is evident in my multifaceted involvement within the military community. Spearheading initiatives like Korea’s Guardian Spouses program, I bridge gaps and unite military families, fostering connections and providing a platform for shared experiences. I organize welcoming spouses' activities and events that strengthen community bonds, recognizing the importance of a sense of belonging. With seven relocations, I understand the challenges and actively contribute to family sponsorship programs, easing newcomers into our overseas community. Advocating for essential services, I address childcare needs and champion tailored educational programs for school-aged children. My holistic approach, from innovative programs to support services, reflects a genuine passion for creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all military spouses and families.

Describe how you support your community:
I am dedicated to fostering symbiotic partnerships between local businesses and base activities, strengthening the bond between the military community and entrepreneurs. This not only boosts the local economy but integrates military spouses into the broader environment. Additionally, my initiatives extend to fostering positive relationships with our host nation, Korea, promoting cultural exchange, goodwill, and cooperation. I strive to integrate Korean families into our community, creating shared spaces for diverse experiences and building lasting bonds. My commitment to inclusivity aligns with my goal to uplift all military spouses, fostering unity and collaboration within the broader military community for the well-being of our diverse military family.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I am a passionate advocate for our military children as they embody resilience in the face of unique challenges that often go unnoticed. They navigate a world shaped by the unpredictable nature of their parents' service, frequent relocations, prolonged separations, and the emotional toll of uncertainty. In the often-risky line of work their parents undertake, military children shoulder burdens that can be overlooked. They adapt to new schools, forge friendships, and endure a constant cycle of goodbyes, exhibiting strength beyond their age. I champion their cause to ensure the support and recognition they deserve. I aim to shed light on their resilience, emphasizing the need for tailored resources, educational support, and mental health services. It is my belief that by amplifying their voices, we can foster a community that nurtures and uplifts these extraordinary young individuals, addressing the adversity they courageously navigate in the shadows of their parents' noble service.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I've strategically spread the message of advocacy through a dual approach, combining personal interaction and virtual outreach. Recognizing the power of personal connection, I actively engage in community events, fostering one-on-one discussions with military and community leaders, parents, and children. This deliberate approach allows me to convey the nuances of my platform directly, ensuring a personal touch that resonates with individuals on a human level. Simultaneously, I leverage virtual mechanisms, utilizing social media and email to broaden my reach. By embracing these modern communication channels, I connect with a wider audience, sharing stories, insights, and information on military spouse issues. This comprehensive strategy enables me to effectively communicate in public settings and work with media outlets, ensuring that the message of my advocacy reaches diverse audiences and remains accessible to those who can benefit from the support and awareness I strive to generate.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
Securing the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title is not just a personal accomplishment but a platform to amplify my advocacy for military families, especially our children. With PCS orders approaching, I aim to expand the Guardian Spouses overseas program beyond the Korean Peninsula to reach the broader Indo-Pacific area of responsibility. My primary focus will be on enhancing the well-being of military children, addressing critical areas such as improved schooling options, increased childcare quality and availability, and the advancement of the Military Family Life Counselor (MFLC) program. With this title, I hope to leverage a wider network and influence to spearhead positive changes that will benefit the mental health, education, and overall support systems for our resilient military children, creating lasting improvements across the diverse landscape of the Indo-Pacific region.


I am delighted to nominate Mandi McCullion for 2024 AFI Military Spouse of the Year. She does so much for her follow spouses, and is making a true difference for U.S. Space Forces Korea Spouses and others stationed in Korea. She has enlivened programs that stagnated during Covid and created new efforts to support family members and service members stationed so far from home. From cultural immersion events that provide new members with an understanding of how to navigate the area and local points of interest, to numerous (and large) morale events, to assisting a local non-profit group in baking cookies to delivering Holiday treats to unaccompanied Airman/Guardians/Soldiers, and so much more. She shows exemplary leadership and initiative, but more importantly, she genuinely cares and wants to ensure resources, support and connection are available to those around her.
- by Cara-Lee Alford