Tanisha Caldwell

Branch: Army

Duty Station: Fort Knox

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 7

Share your military spouse story:
Michael and I met during freshman year in a challenging college algebra class. Ironically, he got an A out of the class, while I got a B. We eventually began dating and graduated from college. After graduation, I began to evolve into a young woman and embarked on a professional accounting career while he was a newly commissioned 2nd LT preparing for his first deployment. We married after two years of long-distance dating with holidays and 4-day weekend visits. Then, two months after our nuptials, Michael deployed again. Upon his return, we packed up for his next assignment. I decided to leave the corporate world and became an active military spouse. However, upon making this decision, many thoughts came to my mind about my career and family life. Because of these thoughts, upon arrival at Fort Cavazos, TX, I changed my mind and determined to become a successful professional and not solely focus on military life. Shortly after arriving, I met a fellow military spouse while attending a local event. She welcomed me to the area and provided words of encouragement and military advice. While this was helpful, I informed her that I intended to network and not discuss military life. Little did I know that this spouse was the wife of my husband’s boss! You can imagine the look on my face when I saw her again at the unit’s welcome event. She was kind and understanding. She introduced me to women who became (and remain) my village. All that I feared, worried, and dreaded went away, and I was able to embrace being a military spouse and career woman while enjoying the journey. I took on military life as a spouse by learning about the installation, attending events and training, supporting unit event functions, and volunteering in the community. I did this while working a full-time job and obtaining my Master of Business Administration. Yes, it was hard! However, I had my village! 16 years later, with 7 PCS moves and 2 kids later, we continue to thrive as a military family.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Service is and plays and integral role in my leadership experience. My most rewarding leadership role has been serving as SFRG leader. I worked hard to ensure families were informed of available resources by inviting agencies and leaders to our meetings to meet with families. Understanding that communication is key, I prepared monthly newsletters and provided families (near and far) with information on unit, installation and community events. More importantly, I wanted everyone to feel valued and included. I ensured meetings were family-friendly, children were welcomed, and food was available. As the SFRG advisor, I provide guidance and assistance in organizing family events for the unit. In addition, I have served on the board of three spouse clubs as treasurer and sub-club leader. Through leading, I have aided with fundraising efforts for grants and scholarships with the local communities. Serving in leadership roles allowed me to establish additional connections with others.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
My level of involvement can be described as a good neighbor, rolling up my sleeves to help whenever there is an opportunity. As a Fort Knox School Board member, I volunteer at school functions and advocate for parents as their liaison to the Garrison Command Team, Community Superintendent, and DoDEA. I work hard to ensure their issues are not only heard but resolved. This is a position that I hold dear because it allows me to interact with military children who are strong and resilient. At Fort Knox, we have two elementary schools, an intermediate school, and a middle-high school with grades 7-12. When these students have sporting events and school functions, their parents may be serving away, and their relatives may live away. I attend events with our local village and cheer them all on. Whether it is welcoming a new family, meeting a new spouse, working out with fellow spouses, volunteering at one of the schools, or cheering the teams to victory, I enjoy being a good neighbor.

Describe how you support your community:
While I am actively involved with organizations in my military community, I am also active with organizations in the local community. I support them similarly to how I support our military community: showing up and volunteering for service. I always think of Dr. King’s quote “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.” Whether it is serving food at the mayor’s breakfast, helping Girl Scouts with laying wreaths at the veterans' cemetery, or attending a local council meeting, the key is serving. Volunteering to serve helps and connects the community. One project I enjoyed was setting up and organizing a food and clothes pantry at a local school in the community. Families donated items, and we set up a pantry with food for children to take home and clothes for those who could not afford uniforms. Volunteering at this event gave me a greater sense of community and revealed how much the military families are invested in their local community.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I use my voice to advocate for military families. I advocate for the spouse who is trying to hold the household and children together while their partner is deployed. I advocate for the spouse who must find a new job every PCS move. I advocate for the spouse who is struggling mentally trying to keep it together. I advocate for the parent of the autistic child who must find a third new therapist. I advocate for the child who is entering a new school with no friends and for the soldier who cannot focus because of issues at home. Advocacy can be conducted in many ways: joining forces to work for a resolution, meeting with leadership, and informing the community about issues and how they affect families and soldiers. I advocate ensuring these issues are heard and resolved. I recognize that while advocacy is essential, some people may not want an advocate but instead just for someone to listen to them. I can be that listening ear or direct them to the resource they may prefer.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I use social media to share information and resources with and about military families. Whether it is a post about a scholarship application or free local installation services, I will share the information with my network. I think that marketing to the outside community about events on the installation allows the opportunity for supportive relationships. Also, I have volunteered with organizations that are prominent advocates for military families: Hiring Our Heroes, Blue Star Families, the Secure Initiative, and others. I have shared my experiences by having intentional and transparent conversations with other spouses, especially new spouses. I try to serve as a mentor to other and seek guidance from other senior-level spouses. Life itself comes with its challenges, and once you add military challenges, it can be overwhelming. Having a listening ear or speaking with someone who has been in your shoes can be helpful. It also can serve as a method to become encouragers and listeners.

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 allow the opportunity to reach a larger audience of military families and local communities. I would use my voice to establish working relationships with corporations and offer professional job opportunities for spouses in the government and corporate fields. These relationships would consist of workshops what provide trainings on pursing a professional career while supporting a military spouse and surviving as a couple and family during difficult and demanding times. It would also provide local resources to families during moves and school transitions. I would help establish villages within each military installation to ensure no spouse feels left alone. As this platform reaches our military branches and installations, it could serve as the platform for “Service within our military and local communities.” If granted this opportunity or not, I will continue to serve my military and local community with a smile.


Tanisha is a super mom, military spouse, passionate volunteer, and career professional! I admire her for gracefully juggling the mom duties of raising wonderful, well rounded children while having a thriving career. Futhermore, she still makes time to improve her surrounding community through volunteerism and contributing her invaluable business skills to the Fort Knox Spouses & Community Club among other organizations. Last year she assisted the club in raising over $40,000 towards grants and scholarships for military individuals and organizations. Maybe most importantly, Tanisha is an instant friend and resource as she naturally uplifts and encourages all of the people surrounding her.
- by Alisyn Kandybowicz