Morgan Harrison, Air Force Spouse
Two quotes I live by...
“Embrace the chaos” & “There’s no such thing as too much kindness”
Growing up under the care of a single parent while looking after a special needs sibling, I witnessed the transformative power of kindness and community in navigating life's challenges. Fast forward to life now— a military spouse since 2013, a mother to four girls (yes, my poor husband), and also a parent to a child with special needs. As if that weren't enough, throw in four PCS moves (two within the same year), living on an island in the midst of a ballistic missile threat, and a cross-country journey for an autism service dog. It's been a chaotic ride, so make sure your seatbelt is fastened.
I was the first among my friends to become a parent. I always had a desire to connect with others, enjoy the outdoors, and include everyone. I feel blessed to have lived next to my entire family 24 years, then I found myself uprooted by Uncle Sam and my spouse's career, landing on an island with no family support. No guidance on coping with moving away from family, resetting life, raising my own family, deciphering all the acronyms, grieving, and accessing resources after a nonverbal autism diagnosis for my child. A lot was thrown our way, and with my husband working 12-hour shifts, much of the responsibility fell on me rapidly. Enter the sweetest spouse and the key spouse program. Initially, it was a way to connect, escape the "stay-at-home mom" routine, and meet other spouses. However, it evolved into much more when I recognized the need for support for families facing various struggles—whether it be having children, needing companionship during long night shifts, or coping when away from loved ones.
As a social butterfly and chatterbox, I started being real with families, sharing our highs and lows, moments of darkness, anger, and healing. It became my mission to ensure others didn't feel alone. Provide new spouses with a cheat sheet for all those silly acronyms and normalizing the chaos of being a hot mess in the commissary aisle on payday! I aimed to be someone who unconditionally had your back, willing to hold your hand through the roller coaster of life. If sharing our struggles could help just one person, it was worth it. Being brave and vulnerable, sharing our stories, made this military life more relatable, connecting both civilians and active duty for a smoother ride.
I've been fortunate to meet incredible people with their own stories of chaos, sharing tears and laughter to emerge stronger. I've initiated and supported various Key Spouse programs, inspired the New Zealand Air Force to create a similar program, carried the Olympic torch as the youngest bearer, been a voice for special needs kiddos, and a strong advocate for their families. Most importantly, I've left each place with a little more kindness.