KODIAK — Danielle Medolla has spent years helping other people, now she is getting rewarded for it.
Medolla was named the 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Coast Guard Military Spouse of the Year early last week.
She found out about the prestigious honor, like everybody else, on Facebook.
“I was shocked and numb and excited,” Medolla said. “I found out the same time everybody else did . I didn’t get any advanced warning. It kind of took my breath away.”
Medolla now squares off with the five other military branch winners in a public vote that begins 8 p.m. today and ends 8 p.m. Tuesday. The winner will be revealed on May 9 at the Military Spouse of the Year award ceremony in Washington D.C.
Regardless of the outcome, Medolla will be traveling to Washington, delivering a speech about being a military spouse and her platform, food.
Medola is a mother of three boys ranging from the ages of 4 to 9. She doesn’t cook with artificial colors or flavors because of health issues in the family.
“There is no real award, the award is being able to advocate for your families; whatever you find really important to you,” Medolla said.
Medolla has been a Coast Guard spouse for 11 years. Her husband, Robert, is an aviation maintenance technician on MH-65 Dolphin helicopters and was transferred to Air Station Kodiak in July — the families third relocation.
Lieutenant Hilary Smith, a Morale Recreation and Welfare officer in Miami — the families last stop before moving to Kodiak — nominated Medolla for the award.
Medolla won the District 17 vote and then beat out three other Coast Guard spouses to claim the national honor.
She was an ombudsman for the air station in Miami and continued that job in Kodiak. She is the communication link between the command and the families, lending a helping hand to anybody in need.
“As hurricanes bore down on Miami, she was the calm, reassuring voice helping families make sure they understood the evacuation process, should it ever come to that,” Smith wrote in her nomination letter. “When families are not sure how to get support services or medical care, Danielle is there to untangle the confusion and lead them to the right program.”
This is something Medolla, who is the director of preschool at St. Paul Lutheran Church, enjoys greatly. Her family also volunteers in the community.
“She believes in what she does,” Robert said.
Danielle, originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., met her husband in college. She went to St. John’s University and he went to Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology.
She said the hardest thing about being a military spouse is dealing with deployments. Robert has been deployed 16 times, once since arriving to Kodiak.
What advice does she give to new spouses?
“Accept the adventure,” Medolla said. “Each station is what you make of it and what you put into it. If you go in with a positive attitude, you are going to get a positive experience and if you sit in the house and hate life that is the experience you are going to leave with.”