Advocating for Volunteerism- The 2020-2021 California National Guard Military Spouse of the Year

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jason Sanchez
  • 144th Fighter Wing

Mrs. Carolyn Chase was chosen as one of the “Top 21” military spouses of the year from 2020 to 2021 through the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year program.

As part of her recognition, she is currently attending a series of town hall workshops and an awards luncheon in the National Capital Region from Sept. 7-9, 2021. During her time there, she is discussing the role of the military spouse and her platform, which is advocating for volunteerism, with congressmen and congresswomen, civic leaders, key military leaders, and other military spouses of the year.

“I advocate for building a network of volunteers, family support, and inclusive connections within the military community,” said Chase.

The AFI Military Spouse of the Year program highlights the value of the military spouse. It highlights their value in the community and their contributions. It helps spouses make connections, network, and expand the reach of their platform.

As one of the “Top 21,” Mrs. Carolyn Chase was a runner-up for the 2020-2021 AFI National Guard Military Spouse of the Year; she is one of the “top three” for the National Guard. Each military branch and the National Guard each have a “Top three,” which comprise the “Top 21” military spouses for the year.

Col. Troy Havener, 144th Fighter Wing Commander, said, “It is an honor to have one of our military spouses compete as a finalist in the program. Carolyn has done so much for our base and continues to champion volunteerism for our Wing.”

Chief Master Sgt. Eric Chase, husband of Carolyn Chase and 144th Maintenance Squadron Supervisor, said, “Carolyn has devoted her life to serving others and deserves recognition for her endeavors in strengthening the community. She has spent the last 16+ years as a volunteer for military members and their families, working quietly in the background and progressing up to become a leader in the community.”

At the 144th FW, Mrs. Chase encourages spouses and family members to volunteer. Volunteers can assist the Airman and Family Readiness office, they can serve a unit as a member of the Wing’s Key Volunteer program, or simply volunteer for specific events.

“I want to encourage people to volunteer. Even if people think they are too busy; even if they think they are not needed in the community, just go find a way to participate,” said Chase. “Go find a way to jump-in and connect with your community and help others connect with your community.”

Mrs. Chase understands that people may have limited availability, including childcare needs, but she emphasizes that any time people can make to donate is valuable.

“People can volunteer on just drill weekends, and they do not have to actually come to base to volunteer,” said Chase.

She also doesn’t want childcare to be the only reason that prevents individuals from volunteering at the 144th FW. She along with the other key volunteers and the Airman and Family Readiness Office are working on creative solutions to enable parents of younger children to volunteer.

Carolyn Chase is passionate about making families feel supported and connected to their military units.

“Families hold us all together, and if your families are not being supported, your focus is not going to be on what it needs to be on. It’s not going to be on the mission. It’s going to be on your family at home,” said Chase.

In addition to family members and wives who regularly volunteer, Mrs. Chase really wants to encourage veterans and male military spouses to volunteer.

Mrs. Chase says that one of the best parts about the AFI Military Spouse of the Year program is getting to meet all the other military spouses and exchanging ideas with them.

“They are all these great motivated people, and we get to hang out together, and meet and really connect and find opportunities to excel in our own personal lives, and to help our units-- help our bases achieve better programs,” said Chase. “It really is strengthening; this network is strengthening.”

In addition to volunteerism, other platforms include improving military quality of life, building community for male spouses, strengthening military marriages, support for young military moms, and reading advocacy for military children. The possibilities are endless.

“The more we connect with each other within the military community and the more we connect with each other outside the military community, the better we actually feel-- not only about our purpose in life, but we feel more connected with the people who are around us,” said Chase. “Just having the ability to help other people, helps you.”

Nominations for the AFI Military Spouse of the Year reopen Monday, November 29, 2021 for the 2022 nominees.

Spouses or family members at the 144th FW who are interested in volunteering should reach out to any of the Wing’s key volunteers or the Airman and Family Readiness office to see how they can volunteer.