Editor's note: This is the first story in a series about Colorado military spouses voted as their installation's Military Spouse of the Year, an annual contest held by Military Spouse Magazine. Contestants are nominated by community members and whittled down to one per military installation by online voters. Voting has closed. An overall winner will be announced May 9 in Washington, D.C.
Judy Davis, Fort Carson Military Spouse of the Year
When Judy Davis married her husband in 1991, she became a veteran's wife.
She never pictured herself as a military wife until more than two decades later, when her husband, a plant manager at an automotive supplier near Detroit, came home from work one evening and said he "couldn't do it anymore."
"Without skipping a beat, he looked at me and said, 'I want to put my uniform back on," recalled Davis, who was 39 and the mother to high school students at the time.
"A month and a half later, we were on our way to our first duty station."
Her husband's career change to Army combat engineer meant her family had to sacrifice. Davis had to rebuild her business as a life coach and motivational speaker at Fort Bliss, Texas, and then again at Fort Carson. Her kids had to change high schools.
But the decision to join the military was a family one, and it has paid off for everyone, Davis said.
"It's been interesting, educational and probably the most rewarding thing we've ever done," she said. "It was hard to go from a very comfortable life in Michigan to military life. But we see it as our way of giving back the country, to the community.
"My husband works well with his soldiers and takes real pride in his leadership. I work to empower military spouses as best as I can."
For Davis, that means using her professional skills in a volunteer capacity. She serves on the board of her husband's unit family readiness group, on the executive board of the Mountain Post Spouses' Club, and as the village mayor for Fort Carson's Kiowa neighborhood.
She also volunteers with New Life Church's military ministry and advocates for military families on Capitol Hill when she travels to Washington, D.C.
"When we first got into the military, I saw a huge need for positivity in the military community," she said. "I realized that some of the life skills I had, being a little bit older, and being a newbie coming in for the first time - I had this balance that really resonated with the military community. I kept saying, 'The military is an opportunity for you in so many ways, and it's how you look at things.' It took on a life from there."
Davis launched a blog, The Direction Diva, dedicated to inspiring military spouses to be resilient and make the most of their hectic lives. Her first book, "Revealed: The Unspoken Truth About Military Spouse Living," is due out in March.
She plans to use her platform as Fort Carson Military Spouse of the Year to call attention to the health care needs of college-age military dependents, who she says aren't always able to easily access covered services while away from home.
It's a difficulty her family knows about firsthand. Her son tried to commit suicide while away at college, she said.
"What astounded me is that there was no Tricare-approved facility in the area," even with two military installations so close, she said.
"There were no adequate resources or support facilities he needed in a time of crisis.
"If you're a military dependent, you should have access to the care you need."