Woman helps military spouses like her adapt, overcome change

BAFB Spouse of the year

BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Julie Cooley has been named the 2019 Armed Forces Insurance Barksdale Spouse of the Year.

Her mission, to help change the lives of military families through employment and volunteer opportunities for other spouses.

“Seventy-five percent of jobs are hired through networking, not through job boards and online services,” Cooley explained.

And “... that’s incredibly difficult when you pick up and move every two years, every three years as we do.”

It's no secret, the transient lifestyle makes it difficult for military spouses to find meaningful employment.

“For me, the challenge has been I have always worked, I’ve always been a person that’s needed to work,” said Cooley, adding that her life as a military spouse forced her to think outside the box.

"I reinvented myself and have reinvented myself over and over again."

Instead of giving up, Cooley has become an advocate for military spouses, leading by example and already making a difference in her short time at Barksdale.

“I’m a volunteer junkie,” Cooley joked. “I hop on committees, I love meetings. I know that sounds crazy, but I love meetings.

“What I try to be is a voice for military spouses, and our transitioning service members as well, out in the community,” she continued. "Whether it’s the Bossier chamber, where I’m a diplomat, on the military civility foundation, the MAC, a lot of different organizations, even with Rotary. Just being that constant voice for military members anywhere that I can be, where I can be working with our local leadership, just to let them know that our military spouses are there.”

On and off base, Cooley works to bridge the gap between spouses and the community.

She helps families settle into a new normal when the military calls for a change.

“I tell people the day that you find out your orders, wherever you’re going to next, to be reaching out to network,” Cooley said. “LinkedIn is a great tool for that, but it doesn’t replace hands-on networking.

“For me, the day I get to a new place, I’m already in contact with the Chamber of Commerce,” she continued. "And I find local nonprofits like The Warrior Network that I can be jumping in and getting involved with professional organizations.”

Cooley encourages others not to give up on themselves.

“Really work on your networking, expanding your base. And when you think that you’ve expanded it, expand it some more. There are always key people to be meeting.”

For 12 years now, Armed Forces Insurance has recognized military spouses from all branches who are making a difference in their communities.

Copyright 2019 KSLA. All rights reserved.