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Military Spouse of the Year named for JBLM

Kelly Doyle focused on helping military children transition

Kelly Doyle with her husband, John, and children, Emma and Ethan, in Nepal. Kelly was voted 2020 Military Spouse of the Year for JBLM. Photo courtesy Kelly Doyle

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The term "military brat" is widely used to describe a child of serving military personnel.

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The challenge of being a military brat includes frequently being the "new kid in school" and frequently moving.

Kelly Doyle, who was named 2020 Military Spouse of the Year for Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in a contest sponsored by Armed Forces Insurance, is focused on helping military brats transition more easily in and out of their new homes.

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"I want to give them the tools to succeed," Kelly said.

Her efforts include Hail and Farewell gatherings for the kids. New arrivals are introduced and welcomed, their interests highlighted. Those who are departing receive a booklet with photos of their time in the area.

"We hear back from the kids," Kelly said, which she finds gratifying.

Another idea she developed is games of Capture the Flag in the neighborhood. "We talk with the kids and encourage them to build the community they want," she said.

That includes inviting them to make sure no one sits alone in the cafeteria at school.

The game is good exercise, Kelly acknowledges, noting that she's run as much as three miles during some events.

Then, everyone gets to enjoy snacks, s'mores or ice cream.

Though she sees herself as introverted, Kelly's habit of reaching out to others is how she came to be nominated for the Military Spouse of the Year Award.

Stephanie Muckey met Kelly while their husbands were stationed in Korea in 2019, and was impressed by Kelly's "servant heart" and her support of the military community.

"I hadn't previously heard of the award," Kelly said.

She and the other nominees were posted on Armed Forces Insurance website, where votes were tallied.

"I had lunch with the other candidates before the vote," Kelly said. "Hearing the amazing things the other spouses were doing, I was thinking I should change my own vote!"

She learned of her win by logging on to the AFI website, she said.

The title will give Kelly a chance to reach out to the community, and military-wide, she hopes. Her goal is to share the deployment techniques learned as a family, in order to help empower youngsters to not just survive; but to thrive.

Kelly hails from Leavenworth, Kansas. She met her husband, John Doyle, now a colonel with America's First Corps, through her grandmother.

"She had been at home for several years taking care of my grandfather," Kelly recalled. After he passed away, she rejoined the church she had previously attended, where John was also a new member.

Receiving the phone call with the message, "Kelly, I've met a man for you!" left her with little choice.

"Nobody tells Grammy no," Kelly chuckled, still embarrassed by the tale.

The couple will celebrate their 16th wedding anniversary in March.

Their two children, Ethan, 13, and Emma, 11, understand the challenges of being military brats.

In those 16 years, the family has moved 11 times, including twice to Korea, once to Germany and twice to JBLM.

For her own family, she has trained the kids to look outside themselves and show kindness to others.

She describes herself as a professional volunteer, working with service dogs to help those with post-traumatic stress disorder and visiting wounded warriors.

As a Military Spouse of the Year, Kelly will travel with other winners from bases across the country to Washington, D.C. in May to accept her award.

She is still stunned by the award. "Just to be nominated is so very humbling."

It's not going to her head, though. "My goal is to take my message of encouragement and empowerment to formal channels and help military spouses and children to better themselves and continue to grow, teaching them how to help others through the challenges that we face as a military community."

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