Blue Star Community Changemaker: Meet Jamie

Published: November 10, 2021

Blue Star Community Changemaker: Meet Jamie
Delivered by CSX Pride in Service

When the draft ended in 1973, women represented 8% of officers and just 2% of enlisted service members. Since then, the makeup of the military has become increasingly diverse. Now, 16.5%(1) of all active-duty service members are women. With continued policy changes opening up more service opportunities, that number is expected to increase further. Women represent a valuable talent pool that will make the military stronger overall. Encouraging young women to explore the opportunity that service presents is vital to the future of the All-Volunteer Force. What better way to do that than by showing them powerful examples of women who have served or are currently serving? 

When Geri Maples, Chapter Director for Blue Star Families of Dayton and Southwestern Ohio, heard about a local softball team coached by two female Veterans, one still serving in the Reserves, she knew there was an opportunity to do just that. “I was introduced to Jamie while she was working at the Cincinnati VA facility,” Geri recalled. “I was immediately impressed with her. She previously served in the Air Force and was passionate about keeping her twin girls connected with the military community. I learned that the girls had joined a softball league geared towards military and first responder families. Jamie, and fellow female service member Mickey, had signed on to coach. I thought, what a powerful example. Two women that had spent time in the service were now bringing these girls together to build important friendships and learn lessons of teamwork through sports. Jamie needed a sponsor for the uniforms, and I knew Blue Star Families had to be involved.” 

For Jamie, being sponsored by a military support organization was a natural fit for their mission to demonstrate the strength of the military community to their team. “I feel like little girls don’t typically get exposed to the armed forces as much as little boys,” Jamie said. “For them to know that their female coaches are both Veterans and we are sponsored and supported by Blue Star Families, a military support organization, opens their eyes to different possibilities that they might not have thought of for their futures. It also creates such a wonderful connection for us as a family, and I am so grateful for that.” 

Creating those connections is so important — especially for military families who often do not have the same deep roots that their civilian counterparts have to the area. In fact, according to the 2020 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, just 27% of active-duty military family respondents report feeling a sense of belonging to their local civilian community. Importantly, less than half (46%) also report having participated in a local group or organization within their community. Jamie and Mickey are not only providing an example of what military service looks like to these girls, they are also showing military families in their area the kind of connections they can create if they get more involved.

“Coaching this team allows me to connect with families and my community in such a fun way,” Mickey shared. “It allows me to share a sport that I have always loved, not only with my kids, but the other girls as well. Building relationships is so important. Through coaching, Jamie and I have become such close friends. We love showing these girls that they can do anything. Playing sports, serving in the military — these are not just boy things! I would do anything for Jamie, and I know she would do the same for me.” 

Having a relationship like that — someone to lean on, is vital for Jamie and her family. For Jamie, the desire to keep her twins connected to the military community comes from a much deeper place, which is something she opened up to Geri about while they talked through the sponsorship details. 

“Dorian [the twins’ Dad] and I met because of the military,” Jamie shared. “We were both serving in the Air Force when we met in New Jersey in 2007. In 2008, he received orders for Korea, and in 2009, I deployed to Afghanistan. The distance didn’t matter as we were head over heels for each other. In 2010, when we both landed back in New Jersey, we got married, and in 2012, we welcomed our twin girls. When we later separated, it was as best friends and committed co-parents. We were all devastated when Dorian got sick. In 2017, after many years of trying to pinpoint symptoms and determine a final diagnosis, we learned that Dorian had stage 4 colon cancer. Throughout his illness, he continued to be a devoted, amazing, and involved father to his daughters. He loved sports and continued to come to every game the girls had and even fought through incredible pain to dance with them at their father-daughter dance in 2019. Despite his inspiring optimism and fight, Dorian passed away in June of 2020 at the age of 37.” 

Geri knew her support of the team was also an opportunity to honor a fallen service member who meant so much to his community and his family. As a surprise for Jamie and her girls, Geri had Dorian’s initials printed on the sleeve of each jersey. The initials are meant to serve as a reminder that Dorian is still present for each and every game, and that the girls should be proud of their parents’ service. 

“I want my daughters to stay connected to the military community because that’s where they came from,” Jamie said.  “I want them to know how proud their parents were to serve and that, ultimately, the military brought us together, so we could bring them into this world. I want them to understand that the world is theirs and show them all options for their futures. I want them to see the support that military families and the community have for each other. Most importantly, I want to honor Dorian and his love of the camaraderie found through both the military and through sports.”

While Jamie works hard to honor Dorian, Blue Star Families wants to honor her for being shining examples to these young girls. She truly illustrates what women can achieve and accomplish, while demonstrating the values the military is built on and the strength of the military community. “Together with CSX, who helps fund Blue Star Families, including our Dayton and Southwestern Ohio Chapter, we want to thank Jamie for her efforts,” Geri said. “She is supporting big change for Blue Star Families’ members in and around our area by inspiring the future generation of military leaders and showing these kids what it means to be a team — on the softball field and in military service. That’s why we’re honoring her as a Blue Star Community Changemaker.”

“Through Pride in Service, CSX partners with Blue Star Families to serve and honor military families when it matters most, including the challenging times of loss,” said Bryan Tucker, vice president of corporate communications at CSX. “It’s inspiring to see role models like Jamie, sharing the power of service with the next generation, perpetuating a cycle of service. We can all learn from the dedication and strength that this Changemaker represents.”

It is obvious why we’ve named Jamie a Blue Star Community Changemaker! Over the last year, Blue Star Families and CSX have been honored to recognize a total of six Blue Star Community Changemakers. You can hear all of their heartwarming stories at  

Lastly, if there is a topic from Blue Star Families’ annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey that you are passionate about changing for the better, connect with us. We would love to learn how we can support your journey to improve military life for yourself and others! #BSFChangemakers  

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