Alisha has been a proud U.S. Navy Spouse since 1995. She and her husband, Dan, have one son. Alisha is a clinical social worker who has worked in her field at all but one duty station during her husband's 19-year Naval career. She obtained her Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work while her husband completed two six-month deployments aboard his first submarine. Alisha specializes in psychiatric crisis intervention, evaluating and developing appropriate treatment plans for adult and pediatric patients who are suffering from suicidal or homicidal thoughts or intent or are impaired by psychosis or delirium. Alisha is passionate about teaching laypeople to recognize signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation in their loved ones, and she is particularly interested in teaching these skills among the military spouse community - a community that suffers disproportionately from suicidal ideation.
In addition to her professional endeavors, Alisha is also a classically trained singer who has sought out singing opportunities everywhere she has lived. Currently, Alisha sings with Homefire, a choir of U.S. Military Spouses that was created by the Center for Military Music Opportunities (CAMMO) in May 2012 to perform at the Kennedy Center with famed record producer David Foster. This December, Alisha was part of a small group of Homefire members who performed at Vice President Biden's residence. This winter alone, Alisha has volunteered over 50 hours for CAMMO to assist in coordinating the 40+ members of Homefire in traveling, rehearsing and performing.
Alisha has been an active volunteer since her high school years, when she first volunteered as a CPR instructor and a Youth Leadership Peer Counselor for the American Red Cross. Alisha currently volunteers as the Financial Chair for her son's Boy Scout Troop Committee. Alisha is also a trained hospice volunteer, working directly with hospice patients and their families. She discovered her passion for hospice after her own father passed away under hospice care in 2000.
My wife, Alisha, has been a supportive, dedicated military spouse for over 17 years. While she has lived this life and moved all over the country with me, she has repeatedly had to "begin again" professionally. Somehow, she always manages to find work in her very unique field (psychiatric crisis intervention), and she has remained engaged in her profession despite the challenges of relocating to new communities and new states with differeing laws and licensure requirements. While seeking out an advanced degree, continuing education and volunteer opportunties, she has also been a fabulous mother to our son, Daniel. She has always put his needs first, even making the decision to stop working and stay home to homeschool Daniel when the local school options prved unsatisfactory.
Alisha is an expert in suicide prevention and has so much to share with the military spouse community on this topic. In this current environment in which suicide among our military members is receiving much-needed attention, the accompanying crisis among military spouses and family members has been essentially ignored. Her outstanding clinical skills, public speaking skills and ability to engage with people of all ages in any situation would make her a tremendous resource and ambassador.
I am a proud Navy wife, the mom of one wonderful son and a psychiatric social worker, and I was selected as the 2013 AFI® Navy Spouse of the Year. I volunteer with Hospice and the Boy Scouts of America. My joy in life is singing, and I am thrilled to be making music with my military spouse sisters as part of the American Military Spouses Choir. I am committed to ensuring that military families are able to obtain appropriate and timely mental health care when they need it, and I have founded Military Families Count to advocate for this purpose.
Sing! I have been singing my entire life, and singing with the American Military Spouses Choir has been a dream come true!
Penn State University. I am a Proud Penn State alumna, and I fiercely defend my alma mater. A handful of evil people doesn't define us.
Deception. Dishonesty. Intolerance - especially intolerance that masquerades as tolerance!
I am an expert in helping people through crises, and right now, military families are suffering their OWN mental health crisis. Too many are hurting, but are unwilling or unable to get timely, effective mental health care. Lack of knowledge, lack of availability of care and lack of attention are contributing to this crisis, and military families are paying the price.
As Sequestration takes effect, resources are even more scarce - and our voices need to become even more persistent. As Military Spouse of the Year, I will be that voice. I will use my professional experience, along with access to DoD officials, legislators and the media, to raise awareness of this crisis. I will investigate and define the gaps in mental health care and develop a plan to address those shortcomings. I will also advocate for formal tracking of data on suicidal behavior among military family members
I would go back to a day in September 2000, when my father was still with us. He was at the end of his battle against Multiple Myeloma (a bone marrow/blood-type cancer.) My father was preparing to undergo a bone marrow transplant to save his life and cure his cancer, but he was very sick, hallucinating, unaware of what was going on most of the time. His doctors told us, suddenly, that it was too late and there was nothing more to be done for him. Because of their delay in telling us and my father's confused state, we never got to say the kind of goodbyes we wanted to. For this reason, I am a strong advocate of honesty by providers in treatment.
I would like to see military spouses recognized in their own right, not just as an extension of their servicemembers - both in the ways they succeed and the ways they struggle. We are more than the title of our spouses' jobs. The struggles we face are not all about our roles as military spouses. I would like to see mental health and support services focused on us as PEOPLE. Our ability to define our own wants and needs is curtailed when every support service we are offered presumes our issues and goals relate to our spouses' status.