Wife of “Team Brookins” named National Guard Spouse of the Year

By Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Wood, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs

Shelia Brookins (2nd from left) and her children pose in Louisville, Ky., March, 2018. Shelia was named the 2018 Military Spouse of the Year for the National Guard. She is the wif eof Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Brookins of the 198th Military Police Battalion. (Photo courtesy of Military Spouse magazine)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Visit Bowman Field Readiness Center in Louisville, Kentucky and it won’t be long before you hear about “Team Brookins.” Sgt. First Class Darrell Brookins, the senior human resources noncommissioned officer of the 198th Military Police Battalion and his wife of 18 years, Shelia Brookins, are known as “Team Brookins,” for their big personalities and volunteering.

“We call ourselves “Team Brookins,” said Darrell with a laugh, “and that is what we do – we volunteer. She is always right there with me. We truly believe volunteering betters the individual, it betters the family. It’s just so important.”

Earlier this spring, Shelia was named Military Spouse of the Year for the National Guard by Military Spouse magazine.

Darrell is currently the president and serves as a chaplain of the Enlisted Army National Guard Association (EANGUS). He has volunteered with Job Corps and also coaches children’s basketball, but he still points to Shelia as the standard of a perfect volunteer.

“This title is perfect for her. She does so much for so many people and our family as a whole,” said Darrell. “I am the good idea fairy in Team Brookins, but she is the one who makes it happen.”

Shelia has an extensive resume of making it happen. She has volunteered in churches all her life, assisted women in Job Corps prepare for interviews, earned the title “team mom” in all six of children’s schools and extracurricular activities, currently serves as president and a chaplain of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of Kentucky Auxiliary and has assisted National Guard families in some capacity for more than nine years. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Darrell said he wanted to somehow recognize her publicly for all the amazing work she has done for people and so he and the 2017 Kentucky National Guard Spouse of the Year, Robin Pruitt, nominated Shelia for the 2018 title. “When we were filling out the application and I saw everything that she has done right there on paper, I knew she was going to win.”

On May 10, 2018, Shelia will be recognized in Washington, D.C. for her service to her family and the National Guard when she receives the 2018 National Guard Spouse of the Year Award.

Shelia was in awe at the support she received from her surrounding community and National Guard family.

“It’s just so unreal,” said Shelia, during a phone interview. “People I haven’t seen in five, 10 or 15 years came out of nowhere and publicly supported and voted for me. As a family assistance center specialist and when I worked as a family readiness support assistant, a lot of the work I did was confidential and for people in hard times. You just have to know you have done the right thing and have made a difference. [Receiving this award] and seeing their recognition and support shows me all of that work didn’t go unnoticed.”

Shelia said she wants to use this award as a platform to encourage other military spouses to volunteer in their Guard family program and/or in the community.

“Volunteering can have such a positive impact on your family. Through volunteering, I have had a better connection with my husband, because it has bridged a gap between us. Maybe I am not a soldier, but I can talk about things going on in his unit or in the Guard with him.”

Shelia also said getting the children to volunteer teaches them to be givers throughout their lives, and also creates friendships with other military adults and children who understand what they are going through.

“We have always been givers and so now our children are givers,” Shelia said. “In the volunteer sense, it gave my children the opportunity to be around like-minded children within the National Guard. They had other military children to talk to who were going through similar things.”

Daughter Adrienna, age 27, remembers a specific example of Shelia putting everyone before herself, during Darrell Brookins’ unit’s pre-deployment event at Camp Atterbury in 2011. Shelia was busily assisting in the breakdown of the event, while tending to the needs of all six of their kids, four foster children and other Guardsmen’ families.

“When I look back, I know it was rough,” said Adrienna. “She never once complained or made a big deal out of it. She is solid. What she overcome in life has never been a breeze but you would never know because she always has a smile on a face.”

Adrienna also reminisced about growing up watching her parents volunteer and countless summers when her mother would bring home fosters, distant relatives and other kids off the street into their home.

“It made me a better person because I can see small and/or important ways that other people wouldn’t think about doing for others since I’ve seen my parents do it and seen what a difference it made,” said Adrienna.

While Brookins says she is honored and humbled to serve in the position she said it’s the rest of the team that shares in the excitement and enthusiasm.

“Our children were so excited when their mother won the spouse of the year that our youngest son jumped for joy like she won the Super Bowl or something,” Darrell said. “She is the CEO of “Team Brookins” and the team felt like she finally earned some recognition.”

All of Team Brookins know the motto, ‘find a need, fill a need.’ An ideal their mom practices and preaches.

“Volunteers are always needed, you are needed. People ask ‘me how do I start?’ And I tell them, call one of our Family Assistance Centers, they will find you a volunteer home.”