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Did you know…  Among our Band of Bloggers, three are cancer survivors, one is on the team that plans the Army Ten-Miler road race, and seven are teachers!

Mary Spangler

Mary was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. She currently lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband, SFC Spangler, their two sons, and one cat. Previous duty stations include Scott Air Force Base, Illinois; Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington; Rivanna Station, Virginia; and Fort Shafter, Hawaii. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Indiana University in 2009. During her college years, she also spent some time volunteering for the Student Veteran’s Association and participated briefly in the Army ROTC program. She loves writing, music, gardening, watching documentaries and movies, cooking, hosting get-togethers, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.

Kathleen Palmer

Kathleen is an educator and project seeker from Texas. In her 25 years as an Army spouse, Kathleen has taught and coached in six different states and Germany. Kathleen has a big heart for both Army families and soldiers, having served as a Soldier for Life counselor in both Germany and Korea. Her favorite part of Army life is her acquired community of battle buddies!

Kathleen loves words (both speaking and writing them) and has contributed to AWN, NMFA, The Fort Hood Sentinel, The Army Spouse Handbook, Inside Abu Ghraib, Memoirs of Two US Military Intelligence Officers, and The Army War College at Carlisle. Her favorite writing piece about being an Army wife is “The Lady in the Grey Suit,” which was published in 2015 in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors (Vol.3). You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, or on her website, Life Is Messy, Love Big. Just like Kathleen, the site is a work in progress!

She currently serves as Mission: Milspouse’s Director of Content.

LaVaughn Ricci

LaVaughn is originally from Michigan and met her husband while they were both students at Cedarville University in Ohio. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts, and she also studied bible, theater, and American Sign Language. She is certified in Teaching English as a Second Language. LaVaughn’s husband commissioned in the U.S. Army in 2004, and the two of them overcame a long-distance relationship through five different duty stations and two deployments before they finally married in 2011. Since then, they have been stationed at seven different installations together, have had four incredible children (two born overseas), and have traveled a decent fraction of the world. LaVaughn loves Jesus Christ, being an Army spouse, adventuring with her family, musicals, chocolate, chai lattés, and a quality cup of decaf. 

Julie Eshelman

Julie is originally from Pennsylvania and met her husband while they were both attending James Madison University in 2009. She has been with him since he was in ROTC and has experienced military life as a significant other and a spouse since marrying her husband in 2015.

Throughout her husband’s career, they have been in every type of duty status within the Army Reserve and are currently enjoying life as an Active Guard Reserve (AGR) family. They have been stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Scottsdale, Arizona; Darien, Illinois; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and are currently stationed in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania.

Julie has held careers in film and media, aquatics, and the nonprofit worlds. She is passionate about advocating for military and veteran families through storytelling and raising awareness. Julie loves exploring new places, especially National Parks with her husband and daughter. 

Sara Jane Arnett

Sara Jane is a seasoned Army spouse of 15 years, mother of dragons (four boys), and considers supporting fellow military families one of her greatest joys. She serves in various leadership roles through military and civilian organizations, such as Soldier and Family Readiness Groups, community events, nonprofits, and schools.

Sara Jane currently serves as a USARCENT (located at Shaw AFB) Soldier and Family Readiness Assistant and an HHBN SFRG volunteer; she is an AFTB and Four Lenses Self Discovery Instructor and travels the country delivering keynote addresses, customized trainings, and workshops catered to the military spouse.

Sara Jane actively coaches and collaborates with SFRG leaders, volunteers, military and civilian leadership in multiple commands, ensuring all families are taken care of and remain valued. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University and plans to use her education to make a positive impact for military families across all branches.

Anastassia Kennedy

Anastassia is originally from North Carolina, born and raised in Fort Bragg. She is a military child turned spouse, so the Army has been a part of who she is for her entire life. She and her husband have been married for six years and have two boys (2 and 5 years old) and are currently stationed in Washington, Illinois. She is hoping her next assignment will take her back down South next, because she does not enjoy snow-filled winters!

She is a stay-at-home mom with a knack for crocheting, which she actually turned into a side job.  She also enjoys yoga, podcasts, reading, thrifting, and exploring cities and villages. Most of her exploring various places is food related as she loves trying new foods (and finding cool tea rooms) so she can broaden her palate. Anastassia is a fun-loving person who is always ready at a moment’s notice to enjoy life, have fun, and make new friends.

Anna Fitzpatrick Layer

Anna is an Army wife, Historian, and a Mother of a three year old girl, a baby boy, and a Golden Retriever who thinks she’s the firstborn child. 

Anna met the love of her life, Jacob, while studying history at Cedarville University She and Jacob married in 2016, at which point Anna joined Jacob at Fort Riley, Kansas. In addition to Fort Riley, they have been stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona; Fort Cavazos, Texas; Fort Meade, Maryland; and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  Anna truly loves the adventure of military life and the chance it provides to explore new places! She has found great joy in getting to know other military spouses and in forging friendships by sharing the blessings and trials of military life.

In addition to being an Army wife, Anna worked as an online history teacher for several years before becoming a mother. Anna obtained an MA in History from Villanova University and continues to pursue her passion for history by researching the American Revolution and the Civil War and by collecting (and trying to find the time to read) as many history books as her patient husband will happily move.

Tina McRae

Tina was born into an Air Force family in Mississippi and primarily raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At 17 she met Rashan, her husband of almost 27 years who whisked her away into this rollercoaster ride of Army life.

They have raised four amazing children, ages 25, 23, 20, and 19. Tina holds a degree in Early Childhood Education and found her calling in life advocating and caretaking for her son who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3. She also has spent many years teaching spouses by hosting coupon and savings classes and showing families how to stretch their service member’s paychecks without sacrificing life experiences.

In 2019, she bought her forever home in South Jersey 30 minutes away from family in Philadelphia while her soldier is on his terminal assignment at JBMDL. Her other passion besides her family is traveling and hitting up theme parks.

Laura Holland

An Army brat, spouse, and now mom, Laura holds a Bachelor’s in Human Services Psychology and a Master’s in Education from Marymount University.  She has taught elementary school in various roles and locations throughout the globe. During her time as an Army spouse, she held various positions in spouses’ clubs, school PTAs, layette programs, city planning committees, garrison leadership groups, and FRG leadership and senior spouse roles.

She is the daughter of a career Army officer who moved 12 times across the US and Germany as an Army brat. She met her husband at her parents’ house in Heidelberg, Germany. Together, they have four children and have moved 11 times throughout the US, Germany, and South Korea. Her husband retired from the Army in 2021 after 31 years of service and now works for the Army in a senior civilian role. To top it all off, her oldest child is now a lieutenant in Germany. Her support of the Army is not over!

Sheila Rupp

Sheila Rupp is originally from Michigan and is married to her high school sweetheart. She is a copy editor and writer with almost 20 years of experience. 

Sheila has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and Mass Communications and a minor in Professional Writing from the University of New Mexico.

Sheila is a military spouse of more than 18 years. Having spent the first 17 years as an Air Force spouse, she is now a proud Space Force spouse after her service member transitioned to the newest branch. She serves as a Key Spouse and enjoys volunteering for a local nonprofit arts organization.

In her free time, you’ll find Sheila on hiking trails, curled up with a good book, watching her daughter dance, or traveling the globe. Sheila is currently based in Los Angeles, California, where she lives with her husband, teenage daughter, and dog.

Erin Lorenz

Erin Lorenz was born and raised in Minnesota and lived there until her husband went into the Navy in 2003. Twenty years and many duty stations later, he has retired, and they now reside in their beloved home state near family. They have 4 sons, the oldest attending Purdue University, and the other three acclimating to their new school in the Twin Cities area.

Erin has a BA in Social Sciences (Sociology, Psychology, and Human Development) from Washington State University and has devoted many hours to volunteering with her church and various nonprofits over the past twenty years. Erin loves singing, watching her Minnesota Vikings play with all their hearts, spending time with her family, and finally being back home in Minnesota.

Heather Maxey

Heather is originally from Virginia, and met her husband while she was working as a health educator at the Army Wellness Center at Fort Liberty.

Since getting married in 2016, they have lived in Fayetteville, NC, Washington, D.C., Davenport, IA, and Austin, TX. Heather has a background in health education and research, and has a Master’s in Public Health and is a Certified Health Education Specialist.

She has worked with multiple local health departments and nonprofits, and much of her career has been spent working on issues that impact the military community. In 2019, she was awarded the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara medal for this work.

She is passionate about helping other spouses navigate military life! In her free time, Heather enjoys traveling, yoga, embroidery and other fiber arts, and spending time with her husband and three rabbits.

Kaci Curtis

Kaci Curtis is a Navy spouse and mom of two. Her family relocated to the tropical island of Guam over the summer. She now spends her time washing beach towels, rinsing snorkeling masks, and helping crabs get over curbs. When she’s able, she adds a dash of reading, writing, hiking, and lifting at the gym.

Originally from Missouri, she has moved 5 times in the last decade, and she somehow made it through four deployments in a tumultuous four year period. Things slowed down a bit at their previous duty station (Mississippi), where the family enjoyed a farmhouse on 5 wooded acres.  They raised chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, pigs, and also kept 2 goats, a cow, a donkey,and a Shetland pony. Naturally, they decided to add a second human child to the mix, and turned it loose into the barnyard as soon as possible. She considers herself lucky to have published several essays and short stories. You can find her writer page on FB (@KCurtisWriter)

Anna Spafford

Anna has been an active-duty spouse for 19 years while her husband has served both in the Air Force, and now in the Space Force. She is the mother to five children, two dogs, and two cats.

They are natives of Michigan, but are stationed at Vandenberg SFB, California. They have also been stationed in Texas, Ohio, Colorado, and Kansas. She is an online student at Grand Canyon University and is finishing up her bachelor’s degree in English with an Emphasis in Professional Writing. She will graduate in February of 2024. She hopes to use her degree to write important pieces that challenge the status quo and encourage others, especially those who are in the military community.

Anna is most passionate about her family and spent many years homeschooling her children before pursuing her own education. She is a Key Spouse and considers herself an advocate for military family issues like EFMP, mental health, and improvements to military family medical care. One way she does this is through volunteering with the Exceptional Families of the Military which she has worked with since May of 2023.

Rebecca Dills

Rebecca Dills is an Army spouse of 13 years, an Air Force brat, and an Army mom. Born and raised in Colorado, she enjoys the mountains and cherishes a good rainy day. She currently lives in Charles Town, WV with her husband CSM Michael Dills, their 6 year old son, 4 dogs and 2 cats!

She is an avid animal enthusiast and will quickly become best friends with any dog she meets. Rebecca and her husband have 5 older boys- three in Colorado, one in Georgia, and one who is also Active Duty. She has a bachelor’s degree in public health and works as a Project Manager for a D.C based hospital system managing research on mother and infant health disparities in the local region. Rebecca loves to write and engage in speaking events while sharing her stories of motherhood, Army life, and being an advocate for mental health awareness. 

Crystal Niehoff

Crystal is an Army chaplain’s spouse, mother of five, and grandmother to five. In 2000, Crystal and her family began their homeschooling journey, which Crystal now continues with her oldest granddaughter, Lexi. Previously a child welfare worker and former owner and CEO of Army Wife Network, Crystal holds certifications as a birth and bereavement doula and chaplain, along with degrees in child development and business administration.

She is host of the new Military Homeschool Podcast on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network, created specifically for military homeschoolers. Join Crystal and her guests each week as they bring relevant information to equip you, stories to encourage you, and content to inspire you. An avid researcher, history buff, writer, teacher, and self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, Crystal and her family are currently stationed at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.

George Banker

George is the Operations Manager for the Army Ten-Miler (US Army / MDW), the second largest 10-mile road race in the United States. Since 2003, his responsibilities include the operational planning, logistics, community outreach, design of the course, volunteer recruitment, and support to medical and police jurisdictions.

He is retired from the U.S. Air Force (enlisted grade Technical Sergeant). George received 14 military decorations, including the Air Force Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal (1969-1989).

Since 1983, he has worked as a freelance photographer and journalist, senior writer for the Runner’s Gazette, a contributor to Running Journal newspaper, and is the author of “The Marine Corps Marathon: A Running Tradition.” He is an avid runner, with 114 marathons completed.

Ann Crossley

Traditions and Protocol Team

Ann has been associated with the Army all her life. An Army daughter, she moved with her Army dad to Japan in 1948, then later to France and Germany where she graduated from high school. After college at the University of Georgia, where Ann studied Home Economics, she married her Second Lieutenant love in 1960, and they started moving—22 times in 28 years.

During those years, protocol and etiquette were strictly adhered to, yet there wasn’t any source of guidance for Army spouses. One of Ann’s solutions was to take courses from the Foreign Service Institute and other protocol and etiquette gurus.  

Throughout those years, she shared her lessons learned through newspaper articles, presentations at AWAG, and to various spouses’ clubs throughout the Army. Finally, when her husband retired from the Army in 1988 (as a one-star general) and Ann had time to write, she penned The Army Wife Handbook and The Air Force Wife Handbook (selling more than 60,000 copies). 

Fate put her in touch with Ginger Perkins who also had a long-standing interest in protocol and etiquette, and Ginger put together a committee of 20 Army spouses to help with that work. Two years later, The Army Spouse Handbook was born.

Ginger Perkins

Traditions and Protocol Team

Ginger thrived as an Army spouse for 38 years as an active-duty spouse, which included more than 20 moves around the world and multiple combat deployments as the spouse of the commanding officer until he retired from the Army in 2018 as a four-star general. She is also the mother of soldiers, with a daughter who is a Blackhawk helicopter pilot with two combat tours to Afghanistan, and a son who is a West Point graduate and engineer.

Ginger’s experience and dedication has been forged through the trials of combat and sacrifice. Ginger knew the Army spouses and families needed encouragement, support, and inspiration. She has had the honor to lead multiple spouse groups and community organizations, each time gaining insights into how important protocol, history, and traditions are to understand why we serve this great nation. Ginger has published several Army spouse advisory and unit social guides, such as Training and Doctrine Command’s Army Spouse Protocol and Social Guide and most recently two books—The Army Spouse Handbook with Mrs. Crossley, and Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Customs, Courtesies & Traditions of the United States Army: A Primer for Family Members

Michelle Hodge

Traditions and Protocol Team

Michelle was born and raised in Norton, Ohio. She and her husband, Jim, married after he graduated from The United States Military Academy in 1978.

She was active in volunteering throughout Jim’s 34-year military career. Michelle trained to become a facilitator in a program at The Army War College at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania, entitled Facilitator, Leadership and Group Skills, and the learned skills she uses to this day. 

Michelle helped develop a Company Command and First Sergeant Spouse Course at Fort Stewart, facilitated there and then again at Fort Carson. She was a Spouse Club president twice, EUCOM (European Command) in Stuttgart, Germany, and at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and served as a senior advisor on three boards to include one on a joint base at Scott AFB, Illinois. She was also on a historical restoration committee and a women’s board at a hospital in Petersburg, Virginia. 

After Jim retired from active duty in 2012, Michelle found ways to continue volunteering in numerous capacities spanning the community, military, and beyond.

Michelle and Jim happily raised three children and now have two granddaughters.

Lynda Smith

Traditions and Protocol Team

Lynda and her husband have been on this Army adventure together for 25 years and counting. They’ve experienced 10 duty stations and multiple combat deployments and mission rotations. She has served the military community in numerous roles throughout the years. 

Lynda likes a good challenge and enjoys finding new ways to bring old Army traditions to life with fun and humorous experiences, a little old-school vibe, and a modern twist. She and her husband have shared the richness of Army life with the soldiers and spouses in each of her soldier’s commands by holding tight to the best Army customs.

When she is not volunteering for the Army, Lynda likes to be doing anything physically or mentally active. She particularly loves doing anything outside with her family and dog, Scout—preferably at the beach. She dotes on their two beautiful girls (now 11 and 15) who have both thrived and grown with all the opportunities in the life of an Army “brat.”

Lynda’s advice to any military spouse new or experienced: Use whatever adversity comes at you to make you the best version of yourself.

Julie Tully

Cowgirl-turned-nomadic Navy spouse, Julie writes about life, culture, and the places where they intersect. Her quirky lifestyle has taken her around the world, from rural Northern California to Europe and Africa. Julie’s writing has appeared in Legacy Magazine, Legacy Kids Magazine, InDependent, and Your Teen for Parents.

Her memoir Dispatches From the Cowgirl was published in 2022 and details the years she lived in Sub-Saharan Africa. Now, after spending eighteen years overseas, Julie and her family have embarked on an even greater adventure—rediscovering the United States. You can read more about Julie and her work on her website julietullywriter.com,or follow along on her adventures via Facebook and Instagram.

The PCS Homegirls

Tracey Greene and Annie Pepoon are co-founders of The PCS Homegirls. The Army brought them together in 2016 when their families were stationed at Ft. Carson (and then again at Ft. Benning a few years later) and they’ve been friends ever since! They are both licensed and professional real estate agents at their current duty stations (Ft Stewart and Ft Liberty).

After years of friendship, they decided to start an online community in order to help educate and support military families in the home buying and home selling process. As military spouses themselves with over 14 PCS moves between them as well as 9 home sales/purchases across 10 states, they understand the difficulties that can arise for military families when trying to navigate the home buying and selling process in the midst of life in general.

The goal of The PCS Homegirls is to connect military families with vetted military affiliated agents wherever they may PCS. Additionally, they want to provide useful resources while at their current duty stations such as PCS tips and a supportive community. The PCS Homegirls detail base guides and information in their Living Like a Local Series, as well as other PCS and military related topics. Most recently, they’ve branched out to highlight military lifestyle topics on their blog. Join Annie and Tracey today in their online community or find a vetted and trustworthy real estate agent in your area by filling out their real estate agent questionnaire.

Hope For the Warriors

Founded in 2006, Hope For The Warriors (HOPE) is a national nonprofit dedicated to providing a foundation of financial, career and educational stability. Physical and emotional strength. And social support with true connection and belonging that builds community. What began as post-combat bedside care and support has evolved to a national organization that has adapted to ongoing changes within the military community. The organization has stayed the course with our country’s post-9/11 veteran population as physical wounds healed, but emotional wounds still needed care. Since its inception, Hope For The Warriors has served over 159,200 through a variety of support programs.  For more information, visit their website, Facebook, Twitter , or Instagram .

Military By Owner

In 1999, the owners of MilitaryByOwner Advertising, Inc, David, (USMC, Ret.) and Sharon Gran, were stationed in Germany faced with a move back to the states. This move triggered the idea of linking relocating military families. In 2000, MilitaryByOwner was launched.

Their website offers advertisements of homes for sale or rent near US military bases. Their home advertisers connect with other families in need of living near a military base. Their business advertisers provide valuable resources to help make a PCS move a smooth one. MBO strives to provide superior customer service by being available for questions through our live chat online, email, and office hours. The majority of their staff is either military spouses or dependents who can relate to the joy and stress of a military move. Don’t hesitate to contact them by phone, email, or live chat! Check out MilitaryByOwner here and on Facebook.

HHUSA Serving Spouses Program

Hire Heroes USA’s Serving Spouses℠ Program is a career coaching program tailored specifically to military spouses. Military spouses who register for the program are individually paired with a transition specialist on their team who understands the unique challenges military spouses face in the job search, like communicating gaps in employment and understanding transferable skills.

They do their best to ensure military spouse registrants are paired with a military spouse on their team—someone who knows the challenges firsthand and has overcome them. Searching for employment is stressful enough without the added challenge of being a military spouse, but you don’t have to do it alone! Military spouses can register for free services on their website

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Ohana Homefront Foundation

The Ohana Homefront Foundation was founded on Oct. 4, 2021, by military spouses Natalie Ealy and Sarah Otto. Both Natalie and Sarah have been milspouses for more than two decades and have a heart for the military community as a whole.

They realized that there is a gap when it comes to mental health awareness and suicide prevention and want to make sure that EVERYONE in the military community is receiving the mental health care they need. The Ohana Homefront Foundation Board of Directors and numerous volunteers are working to bring awareness to help bring an end to suicide within the military community.

Exceptional Families of the Military

EFM is a volunteer-led, 501(c)3 non-profit organization specializing in helping DoD families enrolled in DoD’s Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). They are EFMP families themselves and have multiple online support groups with about 7,000 EFMP family members DoD-wide. EFM provides direct support and support groups, and also works on legislative and policy priorities on behalf of military families. They are part of the Tricare for Kids Coalition and the EFMP coalition, the largest group representing EFMP families. To connect with them, visit their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter.  

USO

The USO is the leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening the well-being of the people serving in America’s military and their families. Since 1941, the USO has been by the side of service members throughout their military service. Impactful support is provided through our 250+ locations around the world, a robust care package delivery program, global entertainment, military spouse and youth programming, and much more, all made possible by donors, corporate partners, volunteers and staff. To learn more and support our critical mission around the globe, please visit USO.org or follow us on FacebookTwitter/XInstagram and LinkedIn

Mission: Milspouse is a
501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

EIN Number: 88-1604492

Contact:

hello@missionmilspouse.org

P.O. Box 641341
El Paso, TX 79904

 

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