By Pat Jenkins
Life as a military wife has taught Rachael Thacker the value of being as happy as you want to be.
Despite the challenges of raising a family while dealing with reassignments and relocations, which so far have included the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, “I can make good things happen” for her family and herself “any time and any place,” Thacker said.
That attitude made her a candidate for Military Spouse of the Year, an award from Military Spouse magazine. Thacker, a former Eatonville resident, was a finalist in the Coast Guard category.
She wasn’t among the winners in each branch of the military that the magazine chose from among 18 finalists and announced in late February. But that’s secondary, she said, to how she viewed her nomination as a way of encouraging other spouses to be involved in their communities and to embrace “new beginnings. No matter what life was like at your last station or community, there is always a chance for a new start when you move. The military community is so supportive to its members, and I’ve made lifelong friends all along our journey.”
Thacker’s husband of 10 years, Russell, is a Coast Guard surfman at Station Yaquina Bay in Newberg, Ore. The coastal community has been home for about six years for them and their daughters, Gabbi, 10, and Paige, 7.
Newport as a community is supportive of Coast Guard families, Thacker said, and she returns the support by volunteering with groups such as a local theater production company. She recently made several hundred cake pops to sell as a fund-raiser.
Thacker opened a daycare in 2009 that “really empowered me as a stay-at-home mom to know that I had the ability to bring positive changes into my life instead of sitting back and waiting for them to come to me,” she told Military Spouse.
In an interview with The Dispatch, Thacker spoke more about her life in connection with the military, including preparations for a move this summer, as well as her early years spent living in Eatonville.
How many times have you moved as a military family? And how do you coach your children through moves?
Thacker: We have moved twice as a military family and are getting ready for our third move in June. My children were really young for the last two moves, so coaching them through was easy. This next move, one is 7 and the other 10, so it will be a lot more difficult for them. Some things I am doing are finding exciting things in the community we are moving to (Eureka, Calif.) and showing them pictures of houses and making plans to stop at exciting places on our way over.
Is there a favorite community you’ve lived in, or were they all special in some way?
Thacker: They are all special, but Newport is easily my favorite. We have been here almost six years, so it has really become home. My family has really become part of the community in so many ways and made some very deep connections.
How did you and your husband meet?
Thacker: I have been a military spouse for 10 years now, and I met my husband pre-military at a ski resort in Park City, Utah. He was a ski instructor there and I worked in the gift shop. He bought an awful lot of postcards before working up the courage to ask me out.
Do you still have relatives or friends in the Eatonville area?
Thacker: My dad and brother and sister currently live in Ashford, and a lot of my friends from school live in Eatonville still. I have a lot of friends from the LDS church there, as well. Eatonville was probably my first real example of what a community can do when they come together. I always felt their support when I performed in our school plays and when I ran for Daffodil princess. Even though I didn’t win, the community really went out of their way to let me know they cared.
What would it have meant to you to be chosen as Military Spouse of the Year?
Thacker: The reason I was so excited about the possibility was that I would be able to have a much wider reach to share my message. I’m a huge proponent of giving back to your community. I want each of the military families, when they move to their new community, to look for ways they can make it a better place, no matter how long they are there. I truly believe it will enrich their stay there in ways they didn’t know were possible.