Meet the Loving A Soldier Bloggers
Tara Crooks, Co-Founder Army Wife Network
Tara is the resident “Lipstick 6” at Army Wife Network and functions as the host of Army Wife Talk Radio, coauthor of Field Problems™, and speaker at Field Exercises™. As our resident “networker” she handles marketing & sponsorship inquiries and social media integration at Army Wife Network. Tara is a coauthor of 1001 Things To Love About Military Life.
Tara is the proud Work At Home Mama (WAHM) of Wrena and Chloe, and wife to MAJ Kevin Crooks, US Army. She has been married to the military for 14 years. She loves Mexican food, the color red (Field Artillery kind), primitive decorating, crafting, and baking. She is known as a “glass half full” kind of gal who can craft a serious belly laugh. Once she sat still long enough she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resource Management. She earned some awards along this journey too. She holds the distinction as one of Military Spouse Magazine’s “Who’s Who Among Military Spouses” for 2009 and she was named the American Legion Auxiliary “Woman of the Year 2008”. What she is most proud of is attaining the goal of her military journey – to empower military spouses to make the most of their lives. To meet Tara and learn more about her visit www.TaraCrooks.com.
Starlett “Star” Henderson, Co-Founder Army Wife Network
Star is the “XO” of this operation serving as cohost of Army Wife Talk Radio, coauthor of Field Problems™, and speaker at Field Exercises™ as well as Editor-in-Chief of Army Wife Network. She is a coauthor of 1001 Things To Love About Military Life.
Star is a National Guard Army wife and Army veteran of full-time and Army Reserve components. Since leaving the military, she worked briefly as a budget analyst with the Department of the Army and later returned to school to earn her Master’s of Arts in Professional Counseling. Her desire to return to service for military members and their families drew her to Army Wife Talk Radio where owner, Tara Crooks, and her became fast “battle buddies”. She was awarded the FINRA Education Foundation’s 2011 Military Spouse Fellowship, which provides training to earn the Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) designation.
Star has been married to the military for 16 years and has two children with MAJ David Henderson, US Army National Guard.
Kristen Smith, Loving A Soldier (LAS) blog coordinator
Kristen Smith is the proud mama of one little monkey, wife to CPT Kevin Smith and a professional portrait photographer. She did her undergraduate work in marketing, and has since completed her nutritionist certification and is currently working towards a degree in dietetics to become a Registered Dietitian through Eastern Michigan University. She is also a certified Family Manager Coach and committed to helping families through a balanced approach to the military home.
Kristen enjoys participating in the Army community through volunteer opportunities with Army Family Team Building, FRGs, Army Family Action Plan, and therapeutic riding programs. She believes that the Army offers spouses a tremendous opportunity for growth and development and is committed to helping others make the most of those opportunities. Kristen joined the AWN team as the 2011 Household 6 and has stayed on as the Loving A Soldier Blog Coordinator- helping spouses from across the Army share their stories.
Emily Grace, Loving A Soldier Blog Assistant Coordinator
Emily Grace was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Currently she and her family are stationed in Seoul, South Korea. She ismarried to a wonderful Army aviator and the mommy of a rambunctious and loving three-year-old. She likes to keep busy, as if being a stay-at-home mom weren’t enough, and volunteer with her FRG, Spouse Sponsorship Program, and the American Forces’ Spouses’ Club.
Rebecca Homan, Resource of the Week (ROTW) co-host
Rebecca is the wife of SFC Matthew Homan. They are a Reserve family living in Cincinnati, OH with their children and two doggies. Rebecca is the Administrative Assistant for Children’s Ministries at her church and high school musical vocal coach with a wide variety of interests to include running, baking, cooking, scrapbooking, and other crafty things.
Janet McIntosh, Field Problems™
Janet is the wife of SSG McIntosh. She is mommy to two beautiful children, Alina and Aiden. Janet began her military journey 16 years ago as a soldier herself, serving 2 years in the US Army active duty and another six years in the Army Reserves. She recently finished her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. Janet spends a lot of her time volunteering in her community and has devoted her Army Wife Life to making this journey easier for other spouses. She currently serves as the Atlanta / Fort Benning Chapter Director for Blue Star Families. Janet knows a life in the military is full of ups and downs but also knows there can be many rewards as well. She is eager to pass on her knowledge and experience to other spouses. Janet was also the 2010 Army Wife Network Household 6 winner.
Nikki has been married for 11 years (8 in the military). Darling Husband (DH) and she have three little girls Allana, Angelina and Abbi. She has a Dual Bachelors degree in History and Political Science with a Masters in International Relations. Nikki is passionate about her family and empowering military spouses to become independant and strong, even in the challenging times that go hand in hand with being “married to the military.” She loves volunteering with AFTB, AFAP, FRG… basically anything that makes being a spouse a little easier.
Paula Swanson, Virtual Assistant & Resource of the Week co-host
Paula is the very proud wife of Army Reserve SSG Brent Swanson. She has a lot of active duty and reserve time as an Army wife as well as being a SGT herself in the Tennessee State Guard, an all-volunteer arm of the Tennessee Military Department. Paula is a WATT (Work all the Time) wife, mother and grandmother but still finds time to be passionate about volunteer work and supporting many military organizations. She is a 2009 graduate of the FBI Citizens’ Academy and is currently completing her Criminal Justice & Paralegal Studies degrees. Brent and Paula’s permanent duty station is outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
Kowanda McBride, 2012 Household 6 (HH6)
Kowanda McBride is the 2012 Household 6 (HH6). She “grew up” in the military. She is married to her husband Ryan McBride. They have been married 11 years. They have one energetic and inquisitive son who is 6 years old. Kowanda is a SAHM and considers herself a professional volunteer. She enjoys volunteering in various capacities whereever they are stationed. Kowanda is particularly fond of AFTB and AFAP.
Kowanda feels that a quote from Martha Summerhayes just about sums it up for her :: “I had cast my lot with a Soldier and where he was, was home to me.”
Maggie Shartel, Public Relations
Maggie Shartel was born near San Jose, California, but grew up in NY and Vermont. Currently, she, her husband and three kids live north of Fort Lewis Washington, while her husband is stationed there. She and her husband were married in Denmark, while they were both in the Army, stationed in Germany.
She spends a lot of time researching information that interests her, and figuring out how to do things for herself…as in knitting, jewelry making and currently canning and couponing. She reads a lot and keeps busy chasing after her three kids, while finishing her masters in communication and leadership and looking for permanent employment.
Corrie Blackshear, Core Team
Corrie is a native Chicagoan. She is the wife of Army SFC Steve Blackshear, and is herself a veteran of both the Army and the Army Reserves. For the past nine years, she has worked as a DA Civilian and as a contractor facilitating Transition Assistance Program (TAP) workshops for separating and retiring service members, which she loved. She is a portrait photographer and graphic designer who is launching a new business venture.
Corrie lives for volunteering, and while on base can be found volunteering through ACS, AFTB, AFAP, FRG and anything else with an acronym. She also volunteers as an interpretive guide for her local National Park site.
Corrie has two stepchildren, Nick (21) and Emily (17), who are smarter than she is. She also has two dogs and lives in a hollow on a mountain in Colorado, where she is looking forward to her husband joining her in what they hope is their last house ever.
Rachel Tringali, Contributor
Rachel is a newly minted Army wife to an amazing SGT. Rachel was born in Shaw AFB, South Carolina and has been lucky to have lived and traveled to many different places around the world, thanks to her USAF retired father. Her family settled in Texas and that’s where she calls home. Rachel couldn’t stay in Texas though and wanted to explore and continue her education in New York City. After graduating college with a BA in Communications Studies in the Big Apple, she decided to move there and currently works as a PR coordinator.
Writing is among Rachel’s many hobbies. She actually got her start writing professionally at a local newspaper and interned at several national and local magazines. She hopes to share her experiences with others as she integrates to Army life. Rachel is excited to start her journey with her solider and to learn more about the dynamic Army spouse community!
Mindy is a medically retired veteran, Army wife and mother of two little boys. Currently residing in Fort Riley, but past locations have included Katterbach, Germany, Fort Hood, Texas and Taji, Al Asad and KV, Iraq. She has served in a multiple different roles to include FRL (Family Readiness Liaison), Rear Detachment First Sergeant, FRG Co-leader, historian and key caller. She is an active volunteer with the National Military Family Association, American Legion, VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), Photos for Soldiers and the FRG. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, scrap booking, taking pictures and writing on her own blog about her personal experiences as both a former soldier and an active duty spouse.
Sarah Anne Hoyt, Contributor
Sarah Anne is a former soldier turned Army wife. After 4 years as an Army cook, and 2 tours in the Middle East, she turned to the civilian side. She has been stationed at Fort Bragg, Fort Eustis, Fort Benning, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Big Sarge (her husband) has many more years left in the Army, so they have more years left for big adventures. Sarah Anne has 2 daughters, Izzy and Bullet, and is currently a college student/Commander of Fort Housewife.
Jenn was born and raised in mid-Michigan, where she currently lives with her husband, an Iraq War Veteran, and their houseful of boys. (They have four of them, ranging in age from 5-14.) Writing is her passion. She recently published her first book, a memoir about life as the wife of a deployed soldier, One Army Wife’s Tale. When she’s not writing, attending one of her boys’ sporting events (you name it, they play it), sneaking in a date night with her hubby, or working her day job at the Michigan Department of Treasury, you can usually find her at an antique mall or thrift store. She loves finding random, funky pieces to decorate her eclectic turn-of-the-century (and possibly haunted) farm house with. She takes great pride in sharing her family’s story with other military families, and although she’s always on-the-go, she’s never more than a phone call away, especially where her fellow military spouses are concerned.
Malori Fuchs, Contributor
Just a few years ago, Malori never imagined that she would one day be an Army wife. She was born and raised in Texas in a non-military family, and earned her Bachelor of Music degree at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. She returned to Texas after graduation in 2009 and currently works for the Dallas Symphony as a Group Sales Representative. She also teaches violin to middle and high school students.
Malori is engaged to “The Warrior,” a Captain in the Army who is stationed at Ft. Hood. They met in the spring of 2010 and plan on marrying in the spring of 2014. During their first deployment, Malori began to “recover” her dream of being a writer by starting a blog, which she uses to share her perspective both on the military life and her journey towards becoming debt-free. She also began blogging for Loving a Soldier in 2012 and finds great inspiration and comfort in the online military spouse community. Her future career goals include being an author, a financial counselor,
and a homeschool mom.
April Rowsey, Contributor
April was born and raised in the South and is a self-professed lover of all things Southern: sweet tea, BBQ, football (SEC of course), Garden & Gun Magazine, fine table settings, good manners and Elvis. April began her Army adventure in December 2011 when she married her sweetheart at the Main Post Chapel on Fort Riley. Since joining the Army Family, she’s learned: military time, the meaning of more acronyms than can be counted on fingers and toes combined, and what it means to be a part of the unique and exceptional Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community. She’s the first to admit that, “98% of what I now know about what it means to be an Army spouse has come from patient & gracious spouses who’ve ‘walked the walk’ & have taken the time to invest in me,” and she hopes to pass along her own lessons learned in a fun and engaging manner.
“None of us is as strong as ALL of us!”
Beth was born and raised in Riverside, NJ. She is the daughter of a WW II Navy vet and cousin to many Army, Air Force, and Marine veterans. At the age of 6, she decided she was going to become a nurse. In 1984, that decision became a reality when Beth graduated from the Northeastern Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia, PA. Since then, she has become a transplanted Southerner, living in GA, NC, and AL. She also considers herself a naturalized Texan after living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for 11 years. In 2009, she reconnected with a past love via the Internet and the rest is history! She married her Combat Medic (a soon-to-be E6) in December, 2009, and is currently living on Fort Stewart, GA.
An ICU RN for almost 29 years, Beth is finishing a medical transcription certificate program so that she can semi-retire from nursing and work from home. When she is not doing homework, she likes to blog, read, and catch up on some reality TV shows (Storage Wars is her fave). Beth is also an active member in her FRG and survived her first deployment that ended in mid-2011. She is very interested in helping new Army wives adjust to this new lifestyle through various social media outlets, as well as reaching out to new wives on Fort Stewart to offer support and teaching them how to find helpful resources.
Lisa Dlugopolski, Contributor
Lisa is a native Midwestern, born and bred in Wisconsin. Since graduating from college two years ago, Lisa has been living in San Francisco, working in the start-up world. She lives for morning runs along the water and sunsets over the city. She loves doing anything active outdoors – hiking, biking or picnicing at one of SF’s many parks. Lisa is a proud girlfriend of a Medical Services officer, who is currently on a hardship tour in South Korea. Lisa loves to travel and cannot wait to visit her soldier in Korea, but is even more excited for him to come home in January 2014!
Tricia Sankey, Contributor
Tricia Sankey is the wife of Warrant Officer James Neil Sankey and mother to seven year old son, Caden. She has been married for fourteen years and has been an army wife for most of that time. She understands the roller coaster ride that is military life and has learned it’s okay to let go, raise up your arms and scream whenever possible. She has a BA in English from Oklahoma Christian University and a MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University. She enjoys writing flash fiction, short stories and is currently working on a Young Adult novel. She has had her flash fiction published in The Journal of Microliterature. While she enjoys the glamorous lifestyle of a stay-at-home mom, she is also a freelance writer who has written online articles for educational courses and worked with clients as an editor and ghostwriter. If you have a writing project please contact her at email@example.com. She is currently living outside of Fort Gordon, Georgia where her husband is attending Warrant Officer school.
Sara Jane Arnett
Sara Jane Arnett is an active Army Spouse of nearly 10 nomadic years, doting mother of three textbook definition boys, and is perfectly suited for the demanding military lifestyle. Although her and her husband Sam’s courtship was minimal, they decided to say “I do” after three dates! This was the beginning to a whirlwind adventurous lifestyle in which the Army provides their
family and it has been blooming ever since!
In 2011, Sara Jane was selected as the “Heroes At Home” Military Spouse of the Year and also received the Military Police Corps “Order of the Vivandiere” award. In 2012, she authored her
first military children’s book, “My Daddy’s a Soldier.” She uses her positive experiences to engage, encourage, and empower fellow military spouses as she has been an invited speaker at numerous military organizations, non-profits, and school events. She serves on Operation Homefront of the Virginias Advisory Board and is a huge advocate and volunteer for ACS and a contributing writer for various print publications and online media. She is on Presidential Scholarship and is pursuing a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership through Regent University.
Blog with us!
Do you love a soldier? Do you want to share your military journey? Can you share not only celebrations but frustrations, in an empowering way We want you! Come blog with us.
Bloggers must be military spouses or family members who can contribute content a minimum of once a month. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know you’re interested. (Writing samples will be required.)