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News | April 7, 2020

USAREC spouse selected for Military Family Readiness Council

By Amanda Surmeier USAREC Public Affairs

Ten years ago, Jill Waters knew nothing about military life, but jumped right in after becoming an Army spouse, eventually earning a place on the Military Family Readiness Council.

Following a lengthy application process, the pediatric nurse and mother of three received a call from the Pentagon announcing her nomination to the council.

The council, comprised of spouses or parents of service members, higher officials and service members from each branch, meets three to four times a year in Washington, D.C. to discuss policies, procedures, plans and initiatives that support military families. Meetings are open to the public, and the last meeting of the year holds a vote on which council initiatives to put in place.

“This a little bit outside of my comfort zone, but I know that I can do a good job and that I can bring some important things to the table,” Waters said.

Waters applied to join the council after Angela Darland, chief of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s Soldier and Family Assistance Branch, reached out to her about the opportunity. Her unique experiences as a career woman, military spouse, Family Readiness Group leader and parent of a child with autism made her a great candidate for the position as her perspective enables her to be an advocate for a variety of different family programs. It was Waters’ participation in the FRGs at each of their assigned duty stations that ultimately inspired her to join the council.

Waters’ call to serve first started when she decided to participate in the FRG at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, shortly after getting married and learning that her husband’s unit was scheduled to deploy. Her first peer mentor in the FRG, Sheryll Shorter, immediately took Waters under her wing and encouraged her to join the group.

She initially had some apprehension about joining the group; however, that quickly changed when fellow Fort Campbell FRG members welcomed her with open arms. After joining this group, she continued to be an active member of the FRG in all the units where they were assigned.

In 2013, Waters came to truly appreciate and understand the value of the FRG after her husband was assigned to recruiting duty in Michigan. This move presented the couple with a whole new set of challenges. They had to adapt from living on a military installation to living in a civilian community and it was a difficult transition for them without the support of a close-knit military community nearby. The experience motivated Waters to become a leader in the local FRG.

“I wanted to support people and let them know they're not alone. They can ask questions and not feel abandoned,” Waters said.

It was here she met Sara Jane Arnett and Katelyn Morris, who, along with Shorter, helped mold her into the military spouse she is today. With their guidance, she made the decision to step up and become the leader they were for her and help establish the support system she wished she’d had during her transition to recruiting.

Waters’ goal as a member of the MFRC is to make the transition process easier for recruiting families by helping them understand the resources available with housing, healthcare and support systems in a civilian community.

Understanding the challenges of being a military spouse, she encourages others to start getting comfortable being uncomfortable.

“You can be uncomfortable in any situation,” Waters said. “Know that things may change and they may not. Be patient. You may hear that you're going somewhere that isn't your first choice and it may change, or you may decide you love it or you may not go anywhere. Just be patient.”

She hopes to use her past experiences to help comfort military families and provide them the opportunity to form unique friendships while building strong families in an environment that may be unfamiliar or new to spouses and their families. 

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