Tierra Jackson

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: Patrick Space Force Base

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 8

Share your military spouse story:
My military spouse story is built upon the foundation of a teenage love. Twenty-four years ago, at the tender age of (almost) 17 as I married my high school sweetheart, I was thinking of nothing except being with the boy I'd come to see as a part of me. My view quickly changed...well, expanded...to see I'd stepped into a whole new world. Over the course of two decades, I’ve relocated 8 times, lived in 3 countries, experienced 4 deployments, and a few TDYs. In the midst of this life, I’ve birthed, reared and molded four exceptional young men into phenomenal human beings, one of whom is also active-duty Air Force. I’ve earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, obtained four provisional licenses to provide mental health services in two states, had two private practice offices, volunteered in my children’s schools on their PTO boards and ensured my house was a home for my family. Two years ago when I shared this story, I started by stating "My middle name is Nicole, which means “victorious people” and is associated with the lotus flower, which grows beautifully and untainted from the depths of murky waters. That’s who I am and what I do. I am resilient with every fiber of my being, using all of my life experience to help build up others." What I have since realized is that it is not my resiliency that has kept me standing in this life. It is my perseverance. I have had to start, stop and restart my life's mission multiple times and yet, to quote the phenomenal Maya Angelou, "Still I rise!"

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I never set out to be a leader, but it seemed to settle on me. What I call "living", others see as inspiring and gravitate in my direction. Therefore, I would say I lead by instinctive example. Within the military community, I try to set the example of wholehearted connection. In practice, this is exhibited by meeting obvious needs to bridge the gap between military life and emotional wellness. I accomplish this by authentically caring for others as a military spouse, while simultaneously training the Key Spouse population as a Community Readiness Consultant at the Military & Family Readiness Center, amongst other things.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
However, my involvement in the military community surpasses professional expectations, as evidenced by the personal connections made with other military spouses and families. Ensuring all military families within my sphere of influence have a listening ear and welcoming spirit to turn to, is priority to me as a military spouse. I will always remember the anxiety which accompanies being the “new” spouse at every new installation and feeling like I was moving unseen in a sea of faces. In my communications, I have learned it is even more difficult for our dual military, single parents, and unaccompanied service members, as people often see the uniform and not the person. Therefore, my involvement in the community is best described as wrapping my arms around the unseen populations so they know they always have family, regardless of their location.

Describe how you support your community:
The evidence of my support to our military community has always been exhibited by being on Family Care Plans for our military families mandated to have a contingency plan in place to meet their mission requirements. While it is often seen as a simple gesture of providing a name on a piece of paper, it is more than that for the single or dual military families, as they are entrusting you with their most prized gifts during deployments. The aspect of being this selfless support system is currently my reality, as evidenced by becoming the guardian of a single airman’s teenage daughter to ensure the airman remained mission ready. This has not been without difficulties, especially being a boy mom, but it has been rewarding on several fronts. In this manner, my support has provided one of America’s heroes peace and assurance, knowing that she can perform her duties overseas and not have to worry about the safety of her child.

What do you advocate for? Why?
Mental health is always my foundational response to the question of advocacy. However, there are levels to mental health that I believe must be taken tier by tier. Through my own family’s post-deployment experiences, I see the greatest need in tackling mental health through the reintegration process. This means merging the family back together in a way that is effective, while also being healthy and safe for every member. Throughout the last ten months, it has become even more apparent that through this vein, we can tackle several other aspects of mental health inconsistencies plaguing our members and thus our families. If we take a systemic approach, rather than an individual approach solely focused on the military member, we can not only shorten the reintegration process but simultaneously, empower the families in a manner that decreases the negative impact of separations in the future.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I am currently elevating my platform and advocating through pursuing my doctorate with a specialization focused on military families. Through this avenue, I am focusing my project on creating an effective reintegration program with the flexibility to work within all families. This includes analyzing past research to determine how far we have progressed, if at all, so we may continue moving forward. Furthermore, I have piqued the interest of others in assisting with the creation of the program for success by utilizing tools formally only used in civilian organizations, never fully considered when working with constantly transitioning families. All that to say, my platform is very much like our military families---constantly transitioning and being built to fit an extremely unique mold.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
Through the title of AFI Military Spouse of the Year, I hope to continue shedding a light on how we can strengthen our military community and thrive in cohesiveness. One thing I have learned and lean upon heavily is the fact that “Retention is not in the uniform. It is in the families.” If we continue to look at our military families, especially the military spouse, only as an entity of support to the uniform member we will continue to see a declination in successful military families and thus, retention of military members. However, if we wrap our arms around the entire family and provide quality emotional support of the unit, I believe we will see the type of cohesiveness of past generations. For life is better when we live it together and that is only possible when we feed into one another.


I am nominating my incredible wife, Tierra Jackson, for the Military Spouse of the Year. Her dedication, tireless support, and profound impact on our community make her an exceptional candidate. As a military spouse, she has consistently demonstrated remarkable resilience and strength in the face of the unique challenges that military life presents. Her selflessness shines as she creates a loving environment for our family during deployments and relocations. Tierra's adaptability, community connections, and efforts to make each place feel like home are remarkable. She actively contributes to our community by organizing support groups, hosting morale-boosting events, and providing mentorship. Tierra's impact extends to our children, ensuring their academic, emotional, and social well-being amidst the changes military life brings. Beyond her role in our family, Tierra inspires others with her kindness, resilience, and determination, becoming a beacon of hope for fellow military spouses.
- by Clifford J. Jackson III