FORT GORDON, Ga. (May 22, 2015) - It's a substantial title for one person to hold, and for one Fort Gordon spouse, it's a title she believes is most effective when shared.
Corie Weathers was named " 2015 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year" earlier this month. Weathers was nominated by her husband, Capt. Matthew Weathers, an Army chaplain assigned to 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion.
The announcement came during what she described as a "whirlwind weekend" May 8 -- 11 in the District of Columbia. Up against spouses from the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard, Corie had no idea of what to expect at the awards ceremony recognizing all six branch winners.
From an evening town hall event to a morning breakfast reception and everywhere in-between, Corie said she was surrounded by "amazing, incredible, inspiring spouses" whose accomplishments humbled her. Even though she felt she had a chance at winning, Corie prepared herself mentally for either outcome.
"I tried to stay in denial as much as possible," Corie said. "It was a very strange feeling to want to be able to have the platform, but to also look at these other branch spouses and know they are so deserving of it."
Prior to announcing the winner, each of the six spouses were introduced by guest speakers. The wives of two military senior leaders introduced Corie; both whom she had gotten to know on a personal level during her weekend. That introduction stood out as one of many highlights of the weekend.
"They spoke of who I was as a person, and that was probably the biggest moment for me -- to have somebody really look at me and say, 'thank you,' and to say that they appreciated who I was," Corie said.
Soon after, Corie's name was called, and an oversized poster board of Corie and her husband was unveiled displaying them on the cover of Military Spouse Magazine. From what seemed like out of nowhere, hard copies of the magazine being passed around out to the hundreds in attendance. She remembered at one point looking around and seeing her son handing them out.
"It was crazy," Corie said.
And it was only the beginning of an exciting weekend and new chapter in life. Corie and her husband were whisked away by train from D.C. to New York City, where they were scheduled to appear on the "Today Show," hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.
"It was incredible to be in D.C. one moment, and then all of a sudden come up from Amtrak and be in Times Square," Corie said.
She and her husband stayed overnight in a hotel across the street from Rockefeller Plaza and were transported to the studio the next morning. Corie received red carpet treatment at the hands of a hair dresser and makeup artist who prepped her before going on air. She admitted to becoming a little star struck when she realized actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar was in close proximity and also a guest on the show that same morning.
" I was watching the segment before ours, and I kept thinking, 'I missed Zach from Saved By the Bell!'" Corie laughed.
When it was her turn to be on camera, the focus shifted to Corie and her accomplishments as a military spouse and licensed professional counselor. Married to Matthew for 16 years, the last seven of which she has been a military spouse, Corie has dedicated a considerable amount of time and effort to helping military families. She does this by providing therapy to military families dealing with issues including post traumatic stress disorder, reintegration, parenting, and spouse-care to name a few. She advocates for spouses and connects them to resources they might otherwise not know exist. She and her husband developed a free marriage study online for military couples regardless of where they're at in their marriage, and maintain a blog titled, "Insight, Care and Connection."
A lot of what gets posted online stems from Corie's personal struggles and successes as a military spouse.
"Our mission is to help military families not just survive, but thrive," Corie said. "My goal is to take whatever wisdom I have gained to each place, and leave it better than when I got there."
She is planning to do just that soon. The Weathers family will be reporting to their next duty, Fort Jackson, South Carolina, at the end of next month. And although she is uncertain of what to expect, Corie said she is excited about the future and is ready to embrace its changes. She plans to continue working one-on-one with military spouses in some capacity, but plans to put her professional career on hold.
One of her goals is to take better care of herself, starting with going to see a counselor to ensure she is on a healthy path.
"I know that I have given a lot, and it's time to take care of myself," Corie said. "I want to be an example of what I'm asking others to do."
She has already been asked to speak at several speaking engagements, and expects there will be more. One of her goals is to publish her first book, which she has been working on for the past year. She will have opportunities to reach out to thousands of spouses with occasional write-ups in Military Spouse Magazine.
"This award has renewed my faith in what can happen when you love and respect others around you, work hard, and have faith that God wants to give you the desires of your heart," Corie said. "It has now opened up the ability to be even more creative than ever before, and I am so grateful."
And when opportunities arise, Corie will reach out to fellow spouses for assistance.
"I really hope to work with the other branch winners and not only encourage them in what they're doing, but to call upon their wisdom and experience if I get asked something that involves their branch," Corie said. "As Military Spouse of the Year, we represent 1.1 million military spouses across all branches. That's a lot for one person."