Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Maxwell-AFB
Number of Deployments: 10
Number of PCS's: 5
About the nominee: I was raised in a very small town in Southern Illinois with all my immediate and extended family very close in proximity. Being raised in that tight nit network you develop a real strong respect and value of family. I have been lucky enough to find an amazing husband that encourages these same aspects in raising our three beautiful children. We visit family often so that our children see not only the military lifestyle that we lead but also the stability and support system that they have back with the great extended family they have around the states. Although I was not raised in a military family, I have enjoyed being a part of the unexpected “military family” that you develop along the way with each new PCS.
Hobbies: I have a lot of things that I love to do. For sport I love to play volleyball, whether it be with local clubs, random pick up matches or with intramural leagues. I have a lot of fun playing and cannot wait for my 8 year old daughter to start playing so we can enjoy the sport together. I also enjoy traveling , reading, crafting with friends and volunteering within my community. Volunteering always offers me endless possibilities as each place that we relocate to has a different set of needs and values. Being active within the community and within my childrens schools helps our family to stay connected with the community we live in and develop and strong bond with the new area.
Interesting Facts: I am a very social and outgoing person. I love to meet new people and usually accomplish this through the various volunteer opportunities within the communities that we PCS to. Once people get to know me and start to ask about my career they sometimes are a little surprised to hear my educational and professional background. My degree is in Plant and Soil Sciences and I have held various jobs in research laboratories. As a research scientist I have worked with soybean genomics, immunology (Multiple sclerosis), and nematology. My passion for the sciences and research has always driven me to question how to make the world better around me and so when we PCS to an area where I may not be able to find work, I am able to take those same curiosities and apply them to the community that we live amongst. I hope one day after my children have grown to be able to extend my education and eventually be able to teach and research at local colleges or universities.
What is something you’ve learned from being a military spouse? The best thing I have learned as a military spouse is you develop an extended “military family” along the way. Friends that you meet at each new base become an extension of your family and provide a never ending support system. You take these friends that become more like family with you in your heart through each PCS and you are always able to pick up right where you left off with them when meeting back up with them along the road. These people are blessings when your spouse is deployed or your kids are sick and you are located hundreds or thousands of miles away from your actual family. This “military family” will go above and beyond to help however they can and not think twice about it. Having that support system is paramount in making sure that our families are taken care of while the soldiers are doing the hard tasks set in front of them.
In your opinion, what is one of the most important issues facing military families? In my opinion the most important issue that military families face at this time is supporting dependents transitioning from base to base. My time serving as the MGOSC president and ACSC Spouses group VP has given me much insight into the problems that the military community faces during quick turn and regular PCS cycles. Various hardships and concerns arise including: public school quality, magnet school application, EFMP family member services, gifted and talented program recognition/continuation, school registration/paperwork, spouse employment opportunities, healthcare, base facilities and youth/family member activities both on base and community wide. These are not all of the concerns but quite a few that are common place within most locations. When military families PCS having a centralized uniform method of support for all dependent family members would be instrumental in easing the burdens.
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 definitely the travel opportunities. Although constantly moving from base to base can be quite trying on a family you also get the benefit that most people miss out on. Moving and getting to see and explore new areas is an amazing opportunity. My children have been blessed in that we were stationed overseas in Germany and were able to explore Europe. Being able to see the areas and countries that you would typically only read about in a text book gives them an amazing vantage point to pull from throughout their lives. Trips like that people have to wait a lifetime to experience and my family has been able to live it for 3.5 years. It really broadens their view of the world and opens their minds to the possibilities that exist. Our extended family has also been able to visit some of these areas and explore garnering new experiences and memories as well. The travel opportunities is by far the best aspect of our military lifestyle.
What is one thing you want to accomplish with the Military Spouse of the Year title? As Military Spouse of the Year, I would like to represent all spouses and military dependents while working with military and community leadership in an effort to improve career transitions. Military spouses have a wealth of knowledge and experience that they can offer to both the base and the community but often struggle to find rewarding jobs due to their affiliation with the military. Their temporary status often pushes employers to look for more long term employee options the community. By working with base and community leadership, I hope to highlight the benefit that military spouse employment will bring and look for ways to offer incentives for hire. The benefit to military spouse employment will be increased morale of spouses, increased quality of life of their children leading to possible increased fulfillment, feeling of worth and excitement for military moves. The additional income may help to remove stresses and frustrations that often cause splits amongst military families which may then lead to distractions of military members’ primary mission of defense to our nation. While the military lifestyle is very tumultuous, our leadership could be doing more to cross train, offer continuing education, provide childcare options, and assist in job preferences/benefits for all spouses. Our military is full of extraordinary individuals that answer the call of duty on a daily basis, but we are missing out on utilizing a very intelligent and hard working group that are just as dedicated – the spouses.
Reasons for nominating:
Morgan has contributed hundreds of hours of her time across multiple organizations to include: Maxwell-Gunter Officer Spouses Club (MGOSC), Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) Spouses Club, Parent Support Group at Daniel Pratt Elementary School, Greenbrier West PTSA, Chantilly High School PTSA, and Prattville Swim Team. Her leadership positions include President of the MGOSC, Vice-President (VP) of ACSC Spouses Club, VP of Greenbrier West PTSA, and Secretary of Chantilly High School PTSA. As President of MGOSC she led a team of 27 board members and over 90 regular members across two bases. Through her leadership, they raised $20K to provide scholarships to college bound military dependents and spouses. In addition, her team provided $15K of donations across 20 charitable organizations across the US. Her team provided social opportunity to over 90 spouses and decorated base facilities for holiday events. As ACSC Spouses Group VP, she assisted in running a board of 17 spouses responsible for facilitating communication and socialization of 350 spouses attached to ACSC. She assisted with planning and coordination of 7 ACSC family events and drives. A few of these key events included Spouses’ welcome, Fall Festival, Pancakes with Santa, and community outreach include Christmas packages for troops, canned food drives, and a drive to support the Humane Society. She further acts as a liaison with the ACSC Command and Staff board to ensure coordination and de-confliction of school events. As community involvement, Morgan assisted in the development of the Daniel Pratt Parent Support Group. As a parent support group member, she chaperoned several field trips, assisted a holiday school shop for 1200 children, and raised $13K to enhance the educational abilities of students at the school. As VP of Greenbriar West Elementary PTSA, Morgan managed a $100K budget, served as the After School Clubs Lead, and managed 15 clubs in support of over 900 students. This team enabled teacher support week, volunteer appreciation luncheons and a volunteer training program. As secretary of the PTSA of Chantilly High School, she was responsible to the executive board to provide timely and accurate board meetings records. She assisted the back to school breakfast for approximately 250 teachers and staff. In this roll, she further coordinated with state legislatures on the needs of the school. Finally, the board provided $5K in funds for development of a technology program piloted by the school in support of 3500 students and gave 3 students a total of $3K in scholarships. Finally, Morgan supported the local swim team and assisted with a swim retreat camp for over 75 athletes and their families. Her selfless support to the base and the community has positively impacted countless members across two states and two military bases. -- Jeremy Sherman, Family