Duty Station: Camp-Lejeune
Number of Deployments: 3
Number of PCS's: 9
About the nominee: I have been married to the Marine Corps for almost 30 years, coming into this lifestyle after my freshmen year of college at the age of 18. My chosen profession was initially that of an educator, and I taught school for ten years. I am mom to four lovely children, three adult kids and one ten year old. When our "bonus blessing" arrived, I chose to stay home once again and opted to return to school to pursue a graduate degree in professional counseling. I have since transferred my energies into being a volunteer in my local and military community working with our unit Command Team, the LINKs organization, as a spouse club volunteer,serving as a MOPs mentor mom, and most dear to my heart, serving as the volunteer co-administrator and co-facilitator of REBOOT Combat Recovery at Camp Lejeune.
Hobbies: There was a time when I would have said reading or playing the piano, but now my favorite activity is spending time with our family. We are very fortunate to have almost all of our children stationed at Camp Lejeune as well. It's funny that for the first time in years we live near family - and it's our own children who serve in the military.
Interesting Facts: I have the privilege of being a military spouse, but also a mother and mother-in-law to active duty Marines as well. I am also a grandmother to three lovely granddaughters, with a grandson on the way. I always tell other moms who worry that this military lifestyle is too hard on their kids - mine turned out just fine and even opted to serve the military as adults, either through direct military commitment or marriage, therefore the life must not be that bad. I think one of the reasons I am so passionate about giving back to our military community is because my children have chosen this lifestyle as well. My grandmother always said, if you borrow something, return it in better condition than you received it. Our time in the military is borrowed time, it is only for a season of life, and my goal is to give back to my community so that those that follow have an even better experience than my own.
What is something you’ve learned from being a military spouse? Resiliency. Military spouses are the most flexible, resilient people I know. They truly make lemons into lemonade on a daily basis. The military spouse has the ability to make a house into a home in a matter of 24 hours. That seems like an insignificant detail, but when you transition families on a regular basis, turning new territory into a safe-haven is huge!
In your opinion, what is one of the most important issues facing military families? The ability to secure assistance when dealing with mental health issues, particularly those involving trauma, is huge. Because of my volunteer work with REBOOT Camp Lejeune, I am in contact with active duty individuals and families that have been touched by trauma. We also work with a lot of veterans who struggle once they are released from active duty. When individuals are hurting they often isolate themselves and try to work through that hurt alone, however trauma doesn't occur in a bubble. When one member of the family is wounded, either though combat or other trauma, it touches everyone, and the entire family often needs assistance. Too often, the obstacles of finding the right fit in terms of support and assistance, having childcare in place to coordinate with getting help, and just having the courage to step out, are walls that are too difficult to overcome alone. Healing happens best in community with others who "get it."
What is one of the best aspects of being in a military family? One of the best aspects of being in a military family is the commitment to something greater than yourself. From the top to the bottom all members of a military family serve the mission and cause. You learn to sacrifice for the sake of an ideal - freedom. You learn the importance of making memories, that the little moments that might otherwise seem insignificant have value. Home is not a specific location, home is where you are gathered together under one roof and holidays don't have to have a specific date, they are the moments that are celebrated in unity regardless of the calendar. These things are done because as a military family you believe the call to service is a privilege and an honor, and you are willing to support it with your life - either a life served in uniform or a life served loving someone in uniform.
What is one thing you want to accomplish with the Military Spouse of the Year title? If I were chosen Military Spouse of the Year, I would want to bring attention to trauma related issues suffered by those in my community. REBOOT has shown me firsthand that there is hope for recovery and restoration. Whether it is childhood trauma, sexual assault, or combat issues - you do not have to walk alone. Trauma hurts, but there is hope for healing!
Reasons for nominating:
I am nominating my mother for a variety of reasons. My dad has been in the Corps for 30 years, and my mother has successfully raised four kids, taught special education, and continually given back the entire time. She has spent her life volunteering to give back to the military community with units, with LINKS, and with MOPs (as a mentor mom to help other military spouses). When asked to take over the administration and facilitation of REBOOT Combat Recovery Camp Lejeune, a program designed to help military families and veterans battle PTSD and trauma, she did not hesitate to volunteer. She loves our military community and has poured her heart and soul into making that community better at every turn. I am now a military spouse myself and to me, those lessons are not lost. Don't complain about a problem, be the solution - make it better! My mom lives that lesson every single day. -- Carolina Long, Family