Nearly half of active-duty women are in dual-military marriages, leaving them to serve their country and family in both capacities.
Military life isn’t easy and being a military spouse is especially challenging. It’s difficult to prepare for the task and no medals are awarded at the end. Military spouses are the cornerstones of stability for military families.
Kayla Williams is one of those military spouses. Her husband was wounded by an IED near Mosul, Iraq. The injury left him with a traumatic brain injury, which subsequently led to post traumatic stress disorder. The two met during a deployment while serving in the United States Army.
In 2005, Williams was separating from the Army and her husband was recovering from his injuries. The two Veterans were experiencing their own trials. “Our relationship was really hard during the worst periods of his recovery,” said Williams. “I didn’t know how to be a caregiver. I was transitioning through so many things at the same time; from being a soldier to being a civilian; from being a Sergeant to being a spouse.”
Along with the VA, Williams and her husband found comfort in the Veteran community. Interacting with other Veterans gave them solace and showed them they weren’t alone. That sense of belonging motivated them to contribute back to the community to “make things better for those we knew were going to come home after us.”
Kayla is taking this commitment to serving Veterans into an important role here at the VA. She is the new director of the Center for Women Veterans. As director, Williams will serve as primary advisor to the secretary on the department policies, programs and legislation that affect women Veterans.
“Kayla embodies everything it means to be a true advocate for women Veterans and I am proud to welcome her to the VA in this leadership role,” said Secretary Bob McDonald. “I know Kayla will be tremendously helpful in improving services for female Veterans now and in future.”
Williams has tremendous experience as a veteran, a military spouse, and as a servant to veterans. She is a member of the Army Education Advisory Committee, a former member of the VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, and 2013 White House Woman Veteran Champion of Change.
“My success is in large part related to my service in the military,” said Williams. “I’m incredibly proud to have served.”
Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Military spouses are a lifeline in the military community and I’m honored to share Kayla’s story as a Veteran, but also as a military spouse, as I’m confident it resonates with countless Veterans and their families. In 1984, President Reagan recognized the profound importance of spousal commitment to the readiness and well-being of military members with Proclamation 5184. Congress officially created Military Spouse Appreciation Day in 1999 and it is celebrated on the Friday before Mother’s Day in May.