Military spouse of the year

Military Spouse of the Year candidate Theresa Johnson, and her husband, Command Sgt. Maj. Leon Johnson, stand among a sea of fallen soldiers’ photos at the Fort Hood Fisher House Hero and Remembrance Run Walk or Roll, an event created by Theresa Johnson to honor fallen service members and to bring awareness to Fisher House, a nonprofit that provides soldiers, veterans and families with a place to stay during medical crises.

Theresa Johnson is using her 25 years as the wife of an Army medic to help make a difference, and people are taking notice.

For the second year in a row, Johnson has been named the Fort Hood winner in the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year contest.

She and husband, Command Sgt. Maj. Leon Johnson, met when they both were entering the Reserves.

Though she said he had big dreams of going active duty, she soon found out it wasn’t for her.

“I quickly realized that was not my calling. I’m a much better wife than I ever would be a soldier. ... He soldiers. I wife. That’s our motto” she said.

But Johnson is more than just a wife and mom to the couple’s three sons. She also serves as the manager of the Fort Hood Fisher House, a nonprofit which provides a home away from home for service members, veterans and their families during a medical crisis.

Before coming to Fort Hood, Johnson worked at the Fisher House in Hawaii, and has personally experienced the impact the organization makes when she stayed at a Fisher House facility alongside her injured son in 2013.

The death of a family friend led Johnson to organize the Fisher House Hero and Remembrance Run, Walk or Roll, which she brought with her from Hawaii to Fort Hood in 2014. The event is not a fundraiser, but a way to raise awareness and honor fallen soldiers.

“As a mother, as a resident, as somebody who knows the importance of Fisher House, that was my way of giving back,” she said.

Friend and nominator Candice Ualesi first met Johnson as a resident in the Fisher House she managed in Hawaii.

She said Johnson deserves the title of Military Spouse of the Year because of her compassion and determination to make sure military families are cared for.

“She is a results-driven individual and if there is a way to help someone she will make sure that it happens,” Ualesi said. “When you hear the age old saying “Welcome to the Great Place,” it’s because we have people like Theresa Johnson who care enough to set it beyond the standard of great. As a military spouse and mother of three, she is the epitome of Army Strong.”

Through numerous deployments and relocations, Johnson said the military lifestyle has taught her a lot about resiliency and adapting to change.

“You learn to quickly learn your resources, learn your community and get involved because you can only constitute change if you’re part of the solution,” she said.

Because of her husband’s job, Johnson said moving every couple of years has become the family’s normal pattern, but has also given her the chance to travel.

“There’s such an amazing world out there. We’re very blessed that we get to go out there and explore it,” she said.

Everywhere they go, Johnson said they connect to other military families, giving them a worldwide network of friends — her favorite part of the military lifestyle.

“Anywhere there’s a uniform, your family has family. We do look out for one another. Anywhere you go you have a place to lay your head,” she said.

The overall winner of the Military Spouse of the Year contest, which includes nominees from each branch of the U.S. armed forces, will be announced in May.

Though Johnson did not advance to the top 18 in the Military Spouse of the Year contest, she said making it this far is an honor, and allowed her to raise more awareness about the Fisher House and the run.

“It’s not about me as a spouse,” she said. “Knowing that this platform can get the word out there, that’s the important part for me.”

Contact JC Jones at jcjones@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7464​

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