Tracie Ciambotti is the co-founder of Military Families Ministry, author of Battles of the Heart: Boot Camp for Military Moms, and an Army Mom. Her son, Joshua, enlisted in the Army in 2005 and has served two-12 month tours in Iraq and a six month tour in Afghanistan.
Military Families Ministry (MFM) a non-profit organization that supports service members and their families through the establishment of local ministry groups. Her experiences as the mother of an Army infantryman since 2005 have afforded her the passion and knowledge to be an advocate for military families.
After a 25 year career in the financial services industry and raising three children, Tracie now devotes her time and passion to supporting military families in her community as the leader of her local MFM group and works to expand MFM’s national vision of encouraging churches and community organizations to support the military families in their congregations and communities.
Tracie is a Blue Star Mother (Denver chapter), a conference speaker, and produces a newsletter for Military Families Ministry.
Tracie lives in Bennett, Colorado, with her husband, Jeff.
I am married to a soldier in the U.S. Army and we have two beautiful daughters. I completed my bachelors’ degree in Health Information Management in 2007 through Texas State University. My father is a retired officer from the U.S. Air Force and prior to that he was enlisted in the Army. So, I have been surrounded by the military my entire life.
I have numerous hobbies including natural light photography and bow and wreath making. I am currently a stay at home mother. My husband and I thought it was important that I be home with our daughters so they have a constant in their life, as their father is often gone. I am a fairly independent person and need to be since I am on my own often.
I am blessed to be surrounded by supportive people who genuinely love me. My husband and I have survived four deployments and one horizon (humanitarian) mission; we anticipate there will be many more deployments in our future. Served two terms as president of the MacDill Enlisted Spouses Club January 2009 into 2010. As ESC president, I have created the Welcome Home Committee as well as the Daddy Doll Committee.
I was born in September 1975 to John and Agnes Forsythe, in St. John’s, Antigua. We lived in Antigua for four years before we moved to Flushing, Queens in New York. Here, I went through elementary school and started junior high school before we moved to Miramar, Florida in 1989. I attended Hallandale High School, a magnet school for languages, where I studied Russian and Latin, started on the varsity baseball team and was a founding member of the swimming team. After two years, I decided to attend my hometown high school where I also played on the baseball team.
I attended Florida State University for one year then returned home a bit overwhelmed by the new environment. Between 1994 and 1998, I modeled and acted for a few talent agencies, and worked as an insurance agent for a telemarketing company. During that time, I did a G.I. Bill commercial that some of my basic training buddies saw on the west coast. That got me thinking about joining the Army. In November 1997, I had my first meeting with an Army recruiter. I told the recruiter I wouldn’t accept anything less than mental health. I was a psychology major and wanted to get some experience under my belt to see if it was something I wanted to do for a career.
Basic training was at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO; advanced individual training was done at Ft. Sam Houston, TX. After AIT, my first duty station was Ft. Hood, TX where I was assigned to the 21st Combat Support Hospital. I was occasionally rotated into the staff at Darnall Army Community Hospital.
In 2002, I deployed with the 21st CSH to Kuwait, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I rotated to the desert once a week as part of our mental health mission. Between the 2002 deployment and before the start of the war in Iraq, I decided to switch units. The CSH was a fixed facility where I would have to wait for the soldiers to come to me. I decided to transfer to a mobile unit, the 85th Medical Detachment, a combat stress control unit, for Operation Iraqi Freedom in order to be more effective.
We landed in Kuwait on March 19th, 2003 to scud attacks and chemical warning sirens. We didn’t cross into Iraq until a month later attached to the 4th Infantry Division. Once in Iraq, my combat stress control team moved around with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Our team was responsible for the entire brigade’s mental well being. We were told the number was around 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers. (Cheyenne survived two IED attacks while in Iraq.)
My enlistment was up in 2004, so I left Iraq in December 2003. I out-processed from Ft. Hood and settled down in Killeen, TX with my son and now ex-wife in a home I had built before I left for Iraq. After the Army, I worked for Honda as a new car salesman. I was there a few months before the intensity got to me and I had to take a break from the business.
That’s when I decided I needed to do something a less stressful because I was having unusual reactions to stress in my daily life. The instances of being scared to death became more frequent. I chose to drive buses for a while to allow myself to learn to relax on the highway. The two IED’s really had an impact on me. At the bus company in Killeen, I drove the para-transit route taking seniors to dialysis and providing transportation to the disabled.
During this time I attended Central Texas College in pursuit of my Associates Degree.
In 2006, I filed for divorce from my wife at the time after eight years. By 2007, I returned to Honda where I worked for the next 2 years. In 2009, I returned to Florida to complete my higher education. In October 2010, I received my Associates of Arts from Broward College then transferred to the University of South Florida to study Finance. While working for Honda, I realized my background in psychology was incredibly useful in day to day business and that I should capitalize on my military training at every opportunity.
I’m an Air force wife, mother to an amazing little boy, full time college student working toward becoming a physical therapist, and a Taekwondo instructor (when I don’t have a knee injury.)
Before marrying my husband, I had never been exposed to the military life and like many civilians had little to no idea what the life style was like. It has been an interesting road to travel down. The road has been filled with many twists and turns that have taught me so very much about myself as an individual, about my husband and us as a couple. I have learned what true strength and pride really consist of. Each experience, whether painful or joyous has helped me to gain a greater understanding of life in general.
We have been so blessed with wonderful family and supportive friends. They have helped us along every step of the way. Without them. our lives would not be the same.
My husband is currently deployed on his third tour since we married in 2007. He has missed quite a few of our son’s milestones, but we are looking forward to him returning and spending time as a whole family.
After a career in various public relations and marketing positions, Dorie L. Griggs attended Columbia Theological Seminary, where she earned her Master of Divinity degree in 2002.
During her final year at Columbia, Dorie developed a model of chaplaincy for journalists who cover traumatic events. She has served as a volunteer with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, an organization founded by Dr. Frank Ochberg, MD. Currently she is volunteering her time with the nonprofit, Care For The Troops, www.careforthetroops.org
Dorie served as the Communications Manager for the nonprofit, Faith And The City, from 2002-2004. In that capacity she produced the award winning interfaith dialogue cable TV program, Faith And The City Forum.
She is the author of a self-care advice column for newspaper journalists, One-On-One, which appeared in the e-Letter of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association in 2003-04
She is a member of: the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studiess; a commissioned Stephen Minister at Roswell Presbyterian Church; serves on the Communications and Publications Committee of the Association for Professional Chaplains; and is a committee chair for the Citadel Family Association, a support group for parents with cadets at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.
Her background in traumatic stress studies has helped her in her role as mother to 3 children: Nelson Lalli, a senior cadet at The Citadel; Taylor Lalli, a senior in high school; and Chelle (pronounced Shelley) Leary, 12, the family princess. She is married to Stanley Leary, a freelance photographer.
Colleen Krepstekies served in the U.S. Army for 11 years. Eight of those years she led soldiers and managed military logistics. Colleen began her military service as an enlisted soldier, and in 1994, she participated in a humanitarian mission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during the Haitian crisis. Upon her return, she obtained an ROTC Scholarship to the University of Tampa where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Marketing in 1998.
After graduation, she was assigned to Germany where she deployed for seven months to the Balkans providing transportation support to military and NATO units in Kosovo.
Her final assignment was in Washington State and from there she deployed twice to Iraq. On her second deployment to Iraq, Colleen led 160 soldiers whose mission was to deliver fuel across Northern Iraq. She also conducted humanitarian missions with her soldiers and led convoy operations with the Iraqi Army soldiers.
Colleen is graduating in December 2010 with a Master’s in Multimedia Journalism from the University of South Florida and is now temporarily is working in Public Relations and Communications field at AARP. Prior to her studies at USF, Colleen worked for Stryker Endoscopy, a medical device company in San Jose, CA as a manager for one year. Colleen loves her new career field and is excited to apply her Masters Degree in Public Relations. In addition, she hopes to do periodic freelance work and looks forward to contributing to “Off the Base.”
SMSGT. REX TEMPLE:
US Air Force SMSgt Rex Temple has served in the Air Force more than 27 years and is currently stationed at MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida. His assignments include 10 overseas remote tours and four Middle East deployments since Operation DESERT STORM. His latest deployment was with an Embedded Training Team with the Afghan National Army. In this capacity he served as a combat advisor to Afghan soldiers; this assignment took him through six Afghan provinces traveling more than 3,600 miles in hostile territory. He participated in more than 180 combat missions serving as convoy commander, gunner and driver. He participated in humanitarian and village medical missions, providing medical care to Afghans in remote Taliban controlled areas. For his service in Afghanistan, SMSgt Temple was awarded the Bronze Star, one of the highest military honors.
Shortly after arriving to Afghanistan in May 2009, Temple started a school supplies drive to help Afghan children after a chance meeting with a brave 8-year-old local boy. The boy risked his life to give Temple valuable intelligence on the Taliban and in return he wanted a pen for school. Public schools, community groups and churches in 17 states have supported Temple’s ongoing school supplies drive. Temple and his team delivered more than 700 boxes of school supplies to impoverished Afghan children. Since returning to the US, he has continued with the school supply drive and depends on other deployed military personnel to deliver the items. For more information click here.
Temple documented his latest deployment in a popular daily blog “Afghanistan – My Last Tour.” His blog won the Air Force category in the MilBlog Awards and also first place in the South Florida Society of Professional Journalists Awards. His time in Afghanistan was also featured in a popular radio series by the same name on WUSF Radio, a National Public radio affiliate serving Central Florida. The radio series won a regional Edward R. Murrow award.
LIISA HYVARINEN TEMPLE:
Liisa Hyvarinen Temple is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Tampa, Florida. From June 2009 to August 2010 she took a break from fulltime work to help support her husband US Air Force SMSgt Rex Temple during his yearlong combat duty assignment embedded with the Afghan National Army in Afghanistan. The couple documented Rex’s deployment experience in a popular military blog “Afghanistan – My Last Tour (http://afghanistanmylasttour.com/ ). In Spring 2011, Liisa will return to teaching at the University of South Florida where she has taught multimedia journalism since 2002. Prior to joining USF, Hyvarinen Temple worked in print and broadcast both in the U.S. and overseas. Liisa’s journalism work has been recognized with an Emmy Award and the Walter Cronkite Award for excellence in political coverage; she also served as a Rosalynn Carter mental health journalism fellow in 1999.
Michelle VanHuss is an Air Force wife and mother to a beautiful little girl. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from University of Florida and a Master of Public Administration from Wright State University as well as a Certification in Nonprofit Management from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.
Over the years she has worked in the public school system in Miami, FL, worked in youth programming at non-profits in Dayton and Columbus, Ohio, served two terms as an AmeriCorps member, been a contributer to the Mid-Ohio Valley Parenting Magazine, a guest speaker at the American Humanics Management Institute, served as the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Alumni Association Secretary, served as a member of the Girl Scouts of the USA National Board Advisory Group on Women ages 18-34, and has been a Girl Scout troop leader. Currently, she is a stay at home mother and enjoys volunteering and being involved with the MacDill Enlisted Spouses Club.
Her husband will be third generation career military while she did not grow up around the military at all. She is still learning what it means to be a military spouse and now, how to be a parent. She is thankful to have made a few friends along the way and to have a supportive family.