Flagship's HEROES AT HOME 2024 Special Section

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www.flagshipnews.com | The Flagship | Section 0 | Thursday May 30 2024 1
“If God is all you have, you have all you need.”

„ Spouse of Navy 03-E Joseph Carroll, stationed at Naval Station Norfolk

„ Unit Duty Station: USS Kearsarge

„ Years as a military spouse: 17

„ Number of deployments: 8

„ Number of PCS moves: 6

How do I balance family/work/military life? Community involvement, faith, support from friends and family.

My background: In Florida, I volunteered with my military Church community, raising money for low-income families and helping to provide holiday meals. In Germany, I created a military mother support group for baby wearing, cloth diapering and natural parenting. I volunteered with USO, Army Community Service and American Red Cross. In Bahrain, I taught free classes to help military spouses deal with stress. In Spain, I created a rock painting group for the community and organized a memorial for a lost teen in our community, with 365 sunflower rocks with 2 memorial installations. In Virginia, I currently teach low-cost art classes to military community children and host family events. I’m a volunteer responder for Overdose (Narcan Administration). My father and grandfather both retired from the military. I have been volunteering since age 7.

The best part of being a military spouse is: we were able to travel and learn so much about the world, and how to love people in ways that I never knew possible. The more I traveled the more I learned how small the world really is.

My advice to other military spouses is: Be involved! The more you give the more you will be blessed. Military life is hard but give it all you got and it can be rewarding.

Something I would like to see improved for military families: Easier transition when PCSing especially with children and pets. You arrive with no cell phone (overseas), no car/transportation. Also, more support for children who have reading difficulties, tutoring that is not online to help a child to read and free physical resources. Tutoring. com is not beneficial for a dyslexic learner.

One of my best experiences as a military spouse is: I loved living overseas, seeing all the art, eating all the different food and learning new perspectives.

After military life, I would love to open a restaurant in a military town that would be a relaxing environment. After military life I will continue to help advocate for Special Needs families and will continue to help military families with informational support. Fun facts about Elizabeth:

„ Biologist and plant lover

„ Traveled to four continents and over 20 different countries with my children.

„ Love to try new foods, have eaten camel, octopus, alligator, shark, tripe, ox, pig ears, bugs, rabbit, snails… any delicacy I will try it!

Volunteer service highlights:

„ Creative Kids-Low cost art class-volunteer time. October 2023-Present

„ Edmarc-Peace by Piece- bake and donated 120 desserts a month Oct 2023-present

„ Revive Narcan Administration 2023-Present

„ Rock Memorials for Jaden Smiles

„ Afghan Refugee Support 2021

„ Volunteer photographer 2013-present

„ Volunteer Soccer coach 2023

„ Cancer Care bags for Sentara 2024

„ Collect Plastic Recycling for organization that works with Lynnhaven River Now 2023-Present

“Get busy living or get busy dying.” ANDY DUFRESNE, SHAW SHANK REDEMPTION

„ Spouse of Navy E7 Michael Randall, stationed at Naval Weapons Center Yorktown

„ Duty Station Unit: NCHB 1

„ Years as a military spouse: 19

„ Number of deployments: 9

„ Number of PCS moves: 5

How do I balance family/work/military life? By relying on God and my faith.

My background: I’ve been a military spouse since 2005. Paul is a SeaBee in the Navy so we haven’t moved around too much. He’s been on quite a few deployments, most in dangerous areas. I just hold down the fort while he’s gone and do the best I can.

My advice to other military spouses is: it’s not an easy lifestyle so don’t beat yourself up when you’re down. You can handle/do a lot more than what you give yourself credit for. Don’t worry about what others may think of how your family may do things, just do whats best for your family. That also goes both ways, don’t judge others for what they may do. It’s ok to be proud of your spouse’s accomplishments, just don’t put others down because they haven’t accomplished the same things YET! Be proud of yourself as well, it can definitely be rough. Keep your faith. Never lose sight of the one you love and always try to keep them positive.

The best part of being a military spouse is: that there’s a great sense of community. We’ve been very blessed that he’s been a part of some great commands who try to make sure we don’t feel alone. I’m very proud of my SeaBee and all that he’s accomplished. Something I would like to see improved for military families: Housing has gotten better in some areas but there’s always room for improvement.

One of the best experiences I’ve had: any time we get to be reunited with my husband when he’s been away. Also, seeing Paul walk for the first time on his own after his accident, almost dying, and almost losing his leg.

After military life: we’re planning on buying acreage and having a small working farm. Fun facts about Katie

„ I’m almost always late no matter how early I wake up.

„ I love to be outdoors and ride down country dirt roads.

„ I enjoy being a ball mom & watching my kids play!

Volunteer service highlights: PTOs and church

2 The Flagship | www.flagshipnews.com | Section 0 | Thursday, May 30, 2024

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www.flagshipnews.com | The Flagship | Section 0 | Thursday, May 30 2024 3
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“We each survive in our own way.”

„ Spouse of Navy E5 Ryan Fisher, stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana

„ Duty Station Unit: VFA-105

„ Years as a military spouse: 7

„ Number of deployments: 3

„ Number of PCS moves: 2

How do I balance family/work/military life? I try to focus on the relationships around me — my coworkers and my military spouse friends, the community I have created for myself — and lean on my community for help if needed.

My background: When we first got married, I joined the FRG for his First Command, assisting military wives and husbands in connecting with their command community. I believe that the military spouse community is an amazing community. That helps you feel like you’re not so alone.

The best part of being a military spouse is: the community you build for yourself. Family is very important, but being a military family, you create your own family. You’re surrounded by friends who are going through the same thing as you, who live far away from their family.

Something I would like to see improved for military families: the cost of childcare and the availability of housing on military installations for families that are moving. Too often women have to quit their jobs to take care of their children because they can’t afford childcare. Or a family that’s about to PCS can’t find a house, so they have to live in an Airbnb or couch surf.

One of the best experiences I’ve had was: recently I got the opportunity to speak on local news about the importance of hiring military spouses in the workforce. We offer a diverse background and the ability to adapt at a moment’s notice.

What I’ve learned: that I’m not alone, that there is an entire community of people around me that are going through the same thing as me. That it’s OK to support your husband’s career while also being very upset and missing him. All of the feelings that you’re going through, what you go through alone, are completely normal. The biggest thing is that it’s OK to ask for help when you don’t want to.

After military life: I would like to continue my career in the nonprofit sector and still assist military spouses in finding job opportunities, as well be an advocate for military families.

Fun facts about Gabrielle:

„ I am 27 with no kids, married seven years.

„ I have three dogs and three cats.

„ I love hockey and getting out in my community!

Volunteer service highlights:

„ VFA192 FRG VP 2019

„ Hanford Chamber of Commerce 2022 Newsletters

„ Numerous other duties and positions with the Chamber

„ Soroptimist, 2022 Youngest Member to Join; numerous positions held, including volunteer, chair and presenter.

„ Kings Partnership for Prevention

„ Hanford Rotary

“Life is a book and each duty station is a new chapter.”

„ Spouse of Marine Corps 0-5 Chad Buckel, stationed at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads

„ Duty Station Unit: Marine Forces Command

„ Years as a military spouse: 11

„ Number of deployments: 3

„ Number of PCS moves: 5

How do I balance family/work/military life? It’s a balance that is continually changing and evolving. Family comes first. Always. My job as a stay-at-home mom is to give the stability to my kids that is not always guaranteed when my husband has military requirements.

My background: I met my husband while teaching overseas in Saudi Arabia. Right after we married, we had our first PCS to Fort Benning. After six months, we moved to Hawaii and he deployed. I was pregnant and in a country that was not my own. Our four years in Hawaii included two more deployments, another baby and another house. After our time in Hawaii, we moved to Belgium for NATO. Here we integrated into the local culture and added another baby to our family. In the middle of Covid, days after having our third baby, we moved to Fort Leavenworth. Finally we landed in Virginia Beach where we have been for the last three years.

The best part of being a military spouse is: the sense of community. No matter where we are in the world, we have strands from our web.

My advice to other military spouses is: Take advantage of where you are living to integrate into the local community. Be a tourist in each duty station.

One thing I would like to see improved: I would like to see better healthcare on Tricare Prime in the Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake area. The system is overwhelmed, so when you need a next-day appointment you have to wait weeks.

One of my best experiences as a military spouse was when we lived in Hawaii, and I was a L.I.N.K.S mentor, I had my baby with me while teaching a section of a class. I sat down to nurse while I kept teaching. The next day the L.I.N.K.S coordinator told me that (someone) had complained about me nursing my child while teaching. In the same breath, she told me that I also inspired a Marine to tell his wife it was okay to come to the class and bring their new baby.

What will I do after military life? Retirement is getting closer. I may return to teaching or work for a not for profit. The options are endless.

Fun facts about Chantal:

„ Although I’m Canadian, I’ve lived outside of Canada more of my life than inside Canada.

„ I was born in Bermuda and then traveled with my parents as my father was in the Canadian Forces.

Volunteer service highlights:

„ PTA President of Glenwood Elementary

„ Girl Scout Troop Co-Leader

„ Team Manager for Beach Blades Synchronized Skating

„ Catholic Church of St. Mark - General

„ PTA Military Liaison and Volunteer

„ SHAPE Annual Father Daughter Dance - Organizer

„ Angel Tree Request Coordinator with the local Belgian community

4 The Flagship | www.flagshipnews.com | Section 0 | Thursday, May 30, 2024
“Positivity manifests positivity.”

„ Spouse of Navy E7 Ross Stowers, stationed at Naval Station Norfolk

„ Duty Station Unit: VAW-123, the world-famous Screwtops

„ Years as a military spouse: 18

„ Number of deployments: 6

„ Number of PCS moves: 3

How do I balance family/work/military life? Planners and communication. When it comes to mentally balancing it all, it means we focus on the moment.

My background: I was 19 when I married my husband who is, as the cliche goes, my best friend. We had started dating just before he left for bootcamp. Once he graduated, he remained in Chicago to complete C school (specialized training). I drove from our home in Ohio to see him every weekend.

Over the course of our marriage, nothing has changed. I run to that man every chance

I get whether it’s driving from Southern California to Fallon, Nevada, while he is on a detachment so that he doesn’t miss his first Father’s Day; or flying last-minute to the other side of the world because they are getting a port for the first time in seven months.

The best part of being a military spouse is: knowing that almost anywhere in the world we have “FRamily” (friends that become family). What a unique-to-the military bond that is.

My advice to other military spouses: Make friends, put yourself out there, build your community up, and become part of every duty station you are fortunate enough to be a part of.

One thing military families are facing that I would like to see improved: Mental health care. It’s an epidemic.

My best experience as a military spouse: It’s reuniting after being apart for so long.

To date, my absolute favorite instance is visiting Crete a few weeks ago to meet the Eisenhower. When the ship pulled in and sailors could exit, my husband called to tell me where to meet him… I made my way there and it was like time stood still- everything you’d see in a movie.

After military life, for a little while we will relax and do what may seem to others like a whole lot of … nothing. This life takes a toll on the whole family and a rest sounds wonderful. I still plan to be in advocacy and supporting nonprofits.

Fun facts about Dawna:

„ If you ask the community I have more than 1000 children, as I am known as “coach mama” “team mama” “mama bird” or just plain mama to everyone at our ballfields.

„ We have a small zoo to include our ducks (our pride and joy), cats, dogs and a turtle.

„ I am actually the biggest introvert.

Volunteer service highlights:

„ Navy Ombudsman 14 years

„ Cheer coach for recreation center

„ PTA president and advocate 8 years at all levels through national

„ Board member for our little league 6 years- current vice president, team parent and champions league (special ability players) founder and coach

Residential Treatment

The Barry Robinson Center has been improving the lives of children and families for 90 years The Center is the only residential treatment program 100% dedicated to military-connected youth, ages 11 through 17, with emotional and behavioral difficulties

The Center provides a holistic environment that sets youth and their families on the path to healing Our team includes qualified and compassionate therapists, teachers, counselors, doctors, nurses, and dietitians Our open college-like campus on the border of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia, combines modern residential facilities with several original historic buildings dating to 1933 This combination makes it one of the most beautiful and unique residential treatment centers in the region

www.flagshipnews.com | The Flagship | Section 0 | Thursday, May 30, 2024 5
Barry Robinson Center school admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.

„ SpouseofNavyO-3BrianFloyd,stationedatNavalAirStationOceana

„ DutyStationUnit:NavalAirStationOceana/VFA-34BlueBlasters

„ Yearsasamilitaryspouse:2

„ Numberofdeployments:2

„ NumberofPCSmoves:0

Ibalancefamily/work/militarylifebyputtingGodfirst,mymarriagesecondandmy family andfriends next. Spending quiettime in theWordevery morning gives me a soundmindtofacewhateverinevitablycomesforwardthatishard.WhenIbecame amilitary spouse Iultimately took astep back from my career as an RN and began workingPRN(asneeded).

Mybackground:Imetmyhusband,Brian,threeyearsagoandwegotmarriedayear later.Two weeks after our wedding,wegot unexpectedordersthathewas deploying.Itwashardandscaryinthenextthreemonths,becauseIhadabsolutelynoidea what Iwas doing as awife or as amilitary spouse. After thefirstdeployment, Iwas determined to facethis next deployment that began in January withanew attitude andwithjoy

Thebestpartofbeingamilitaryspouseis:thecommunity of thewomen. When I wasanewwifeandmilitaryspouseIwasscaredanddepressed,andmysister(whois alsoaNavywife)andthemilitaryspousesatmychurchralliedaroundmeandcarried methroughthatseason.

Myadvicetoothermilitaryspousesis:Look for joyeveninthe hard,giveyourself thegraceofhavingahardmoment,andthenlookupandkeepmovingforward. SomethingIwouldliketoseeimprovedformilitaryfamilies:Depression, anxiety andsuicide arethree of my biggest concerns within this community. I’dliketosee a rapidandthoroughsetofresolutionsestablishedtodealwiththesesituationsinthe urgentanddelicatemannertheyrequire.

Oneofmybestexperiences as amilitary spouse: Co-leading aBible studyof12 womenfromeachwalkoflifeandalldifferentbranchesofthemilitaryhasbeenone of themostamazing experiences of my life. These women have taught me so much andbroughtmesomuchjoy.

Aftermilitarylife:Iwillcontinuetoraiseawarenessarounddepression,anxietyand suicidewithin this community and work to bring enoughawarenesstochange how thesearedealtwithinthemilitary


„ Myhometownisthe“PumpkinCapitaloftheWorld”(Morton,Illinois)

„ Igrewupridinghorses

„ I“swore”I’dnevermarryamaninthemilitary.Neversaynever!


„ BoonieFlightProject

„ AscentChurch,FirstImpressionsteammember

„ VFA-34BlueBlastersFamilyReadinessGroup(FRG)VicePresident/Treasurer; „ AscentChurch,militaryspouseBiblestudyco-leader;militarycarepackage projectcoordinator

„ SpouseofNavyE5AustinFinney,StationedatNavalStationNorfolk

„ DutyStationUnit:NavalStationNorfolk

„ Yearsasamilitaryspouse:6

„ Numberofdeployments:1

„ NumberofPCSmoves:3

HowdoIbalancefamily/work/militarylife? My firstresponse. “Balance?” Iam oftenaskedthis,andmydefaultansweristhetruth:withmassiveamountsofcoffee, anabundanceofgrace,andalotofJesus.Iamamomtofour,andthreehavespecial needs.Iworkfull-timeastheownerofmyownbusinessandjuggleattendingLiberty Universityonlinefull-time,graduatingthisyearasadualmajor

Mybackground: My journey as amilitary spousestarted twoyearsbeforethe military whenI married my husband. With considerable consideration and prayer and threekidsintow,Austin enlistedinthe Navy.Throughout theseinsane fouryears, I have done my besttosupport our military communitybybeing present online and in real life.Irun variousFacebook groups for military spouses,families,and loved ones,and am present in dozens more.For thoselocally,Ihostcoffee hours,meals, andeventsforlocalspouses

Thebestpartofbeingamilitaryspouseis:Firstisthesenseofcommunity.Second is the travel opportunities.Lastly,thereisasense of prideand honor.When a service member has afamily,someone musthold down the homefront to answer our nation’scall.

Myadvicetoothermilitaryspousesis: Getinvolved. Military lifecan be challenging,but communityinvolvement can help youfeel moreconnected and supported. Attendevents,joinclubsorgroups,andvolunteer

WhatisonethingmilitaryfamiliesarefacingthatIwouldliketoseeimproved? Genuinelyaccessible,qualitymentalhealthcareandmentalhealtheducationforthe entiremilitaryfamily

Oneofmybestexperiencesasamilitaryspouse:Ithasofferedmeasenseofbelonging,opportunitiesforpersonalgrowthanddevelopment,andthechancetoformlifelong friendships with peoplewho understand and support me through theunique challengesmilitarylifebrings

Aftermilitary life: With my husband pursuing becoming amilitary chaplainand myself one to counsel militaryfamilies,after my spouse’sretirement, we will be activelyinvolvedin“militarylife.”


„ Mostpeoplecallmea“serialvolunteer.”

„ Threeyearsago,Idecidedtogobacktoschoolfull-timetoobtainadegreein biblicalmilitarycounselinginthehopeofonedayprovidingfreeservicesto ourcommunity.


„ WarriorsUnmasked/PodcastHost-January2024-Present

„ OhanaHomefrontFoundation/CEO-November2023-Present

„ DefendersMilitaryMinistry/Founder:2023-Present

„ USSPhilippineSeaFamilyReadinessGroup/President:2023

„ OhanaHomefrontFoundation/ExecutiveAssistant/BoardofDirectors: 2021-2024

„ USSPhilippineSeaFamilyReadinessGroup/Treasurer/2022-2023

“‘LovetheLordyourGodwithallyour heartandwithallyoursoulandwithall yourmind.’Thisisthefirstandgreatest commandment.Andthesecondislikeit: ‘Loveyourneighborasyourself.’” MATTHEW22:37-39,THEBIBLE
“Perhapsyouwerebornfor suchatimeasthis.” ESTHER4:14,THEBIBLE
6 The Flagship |www.flagshipnews.com |Section0 |Thursday,May 30,2024
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

„ Spouse of Coast Guard E7 Brennan Smith, stationed at Coast Guard Atlantic Area & Fifth Coast Guard

„ Duty Station Unit: USCG TRACEN Yorktown

„ Years as a military spouse: 17

„ Number of deployments: 10+

„ Number of PCS moves: 3

How do I balance family/work/military life? I work toward balance by focusing first on what makes me happy and whole, and then begin to work outward fulfilling the needs of my spouse and children first, then my community.

The more involved I can be with each “arm” of my being, the more likely I am to make time to get things done. It’s a journey that never ends as military life changes so frequently.

My background: My military spouse background began when I met my husband when I was a freshman in college and he was straight out of BM-A school, arriving at his first duty-station. Throughout my college career, we dated, providing me with insights into military life. We got married the year after I graduated, and completed our first PCS together. We have moved states two more times, had two children, and experienced deployments.

The best part of being a military spouse is: what it teaches us about leaning on each other, working within a community, and learning to ask for help. Watching my kids learn to help me, each other, and support their dad in his military service and truly understand what that means is such a gift.

What I have learned from being a military spouse: It’s important to seek out resources and be your biggest advocate. Get involved with your military community and you will not only learn a lot, but feel more connected to your spouse.

One thing I would like to see improved for military families: I would love to see more access to quality early childhood education and care.

One of my best experiences as a military spouse: Becoming an Ombudsman is by far one of the best experiences as a military spouse. My husband had 18 years in when I started this type of volunteer service and I have learned more about his position, the military, the resources available to us than I ever did before...and it allowed me to grow closer to my spouse.

After military life I will continue to work in a school dedicated to military students and families. I will continue to look for ways to serve and give back to the community that has given me so much!

Fun facts about Diana:

„ I love to garden.

„ I am Jewish and love working with my synagogue and bringing a different viewpoint to military life.

„ I enjoy cooking and baking and playing games with my friends and family.

Volunteer Service Highlights:

„ Coast Guard Ombudsman since 2020

„ Have served four units and am currently serving

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