ARLINGTON, Va. - The spouse of a Soldier with the Maryland Army National Guard's 29th Combat Aviation Brigade was recently recognized as the 2014 National Guard Spouse of the Year in a ceremony at Fort Myer, Virginia.
Ingrid Herrera-Yee, wife of Army Staff Sgt. Ian Yee, received the award in recognition of her work focusing on mental health care for service members - specifically members of the Guard - and strengthening bonds between National Guard families.
A clinical psychologist by training, Herrera-Yee said that she was simply following her passions while working to establish a larger network of Guard spouses with clinical backgrounds in the mental health field.
"I got my (doctorate degree) in clinical psychology and I've been able to use that with our service members and their families, and that is an honor," she said. "I don't mind doing civilian work, but here I feel like I'm really making a difference for our community and our lives and that means a lot for me."
The network she created allows for a greater access to mental health care for both servicemembers and their families as well as provides for a stronger support base.
"We don't have the same supports when we come home from a deployment," she said, noted that active component service members and families are often still in close proximity to each other as they are often on the same installation.
"We have families scattered all over," she said. "You might be drilling an hour or five hours from where you live, so our families are scattered."
During the ceremony, spouses from each of the service branches were recognized for their contributions and sacrifices. For Herrera-Yee, the recognition was great, she said, but even better was being able to interact with others and build new connections.
"I want to be a voice here in Washington to be able to increase education (on the subject)," she said.
And for Herrera-Yee's husband, the award was equally as exciting.
"I think it's awesome," he said. "She's done so much and it's great that she's getting such recognition. I'm also glad that more opportunities have opened up and she can voice her ideas and her platforms and advocate for National Guard families. I'm incredibly proud of her and I'm glad she had this opportunity."