WASHINGTON, D.C. - Having been part of their tightly knit community all her life, Teresa Vance always has had an interest in military families. Her father made a career out of the Army, serving in World War II and Korea. Her husband was a career surface warfare officer in the Navy, and her son spent four years in the Marine Corps.
"I have not been in active duty service, but I have served on the home front by supporting my husband's military career, raising two very well-adjusted Navy 'brats' and helping other military families find ways to meet the challenges of the military lifestyle," Vance said.
From 1999 through 2002, Vance had what she considered her "dream job" as a deployment specialist at the Navy Fleet and Family Service Center in Norfolk, Va. This position gave her the opportunity to work with commands, servicemembers and military families.
After her husband's retirement, the couple moved to Lahoma, Okla., outside of Enid, where they both grew up. She quickly accepted a position as Family Readiness Group trainer with the Oklahoma National Guard.
"This gave me an opportunity to still work with military families," Vance said. "Throughout my husband's career, I have been an involved spouse and advocate for quality-of-life issues facing military families. I still wanted that connection after he retired."
Through her work with the Oklahoma National Guard and the Enid City Council, Vance was instrumental in getting the community to start recognizing Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Military Appreciation Month every year.
"She has always advised me on issues relating to military families," Eric Benson, Enid city manager, said. "She has the compassion and she has the drive to get things done. You can depend on her."
Honoring her steadfast work with military families, Vance was appointed last month by the Enid City Commission as Enid's ambassador to military families.
"This new leadership role fits her perfectly," Benson said. "She has always advised me on military issues, so I wanted to make it official. I was a former base commander, and I've known her husband for four years, so I've always known her capabilities. I know the value of her in this new role, and I know she understands the military and the community. It just made good sense to do this."
The goals of Vance's new position are to build upon existing partnerships between the city and servicemembers and families associated with Vance Air Force Base, the National Guard armory and the U.S. Army Reserve Center. She will market and promote Enid to local military families, asking them to participate in events throughout the community. She will survey local military spouse organizations to get their input on issues most important to them, and she'll also act as city representative at military events.
"This ambassadorship is just the latest in a long list of efforts to continually improve the quality of life of servicemembers and their families that live in our community," Vance said. "Enid has always been supportive of our military. We understand the military has an important economic impact on our community and our community's identity. For 41 consecutive years, we've held an enlisted appreciation night."
Vance said she believes she will bring a different perspective to the city's partnership with military families because she really has "been there, done that."
"With my personal background and professional experience, I can relate to the challenges that military families face with each relocation to a new community," Vance said. "My goal is to have military families' stay here in Enid [be] a positive one. A local community's support can have a big impact on a military family's quality of life, whether they are stationed here for a short time or extended duty."