The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) recently welcomed Holly Dailey as its new director of family readiness, a position that will see her working on top priority issues like employment, childcare, and health and wellness.
“I’m truly honored that I was selected for this position,” she said. “It’s given me the opportunity to be a part of the life I love and that’s with the Army and our soldiers’ families.”
Dailey’s husband, the 15th Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, is AUSA’s vice president of NCO and Soldier Programs. During Sgt. Maj. Dailey’s 30 year-career with the Army, Holly often led family readiness groups at many of their duty stations. She was also deeply embedded in the communities they lived in, volunteering her time for various organizations.
Holly was quick to applaud the efforts of Patty Barron, who held the role from 2012 until 2021. Barron left AUSA for a position at the Department of Defense, where she works in military community and family policy.
“They [AUSA] already built such a great foundation so for me it’s pivoting to the times and meeting the needs of our families and going from there,” Holly explained. “It’s my hope to be the eyes, ears, and voice of the Army family … Every morning when I wake up, I think, ‘I hope I honorably represent our families in the right way.’”
As AUSA prepares to continue serving soldiers and their families, the main issues of employment, childcare, and health and wellness are in alignment with those found in the Army Quality of Life priorities and first lady Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces’ mission.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the already high military spouse unemployment rate to increase by almost 15%, according to data released by Hiring Our Heroes.
“For years the military spouse has been trying to educate on the need for the right job,” Dailey said. “To have it be a mobile job or work from home or take it with us. We’ve just proven this to the whole world by going through the pandemic that it can happen.”
Her deep commitment to the advocacy efforts around military spouse employment is a conviction Holly says she wishes she could go back and educate her younger self on.
“I wish I would have gone in to my employer to help them be the first one on the map to helping military families,” she explained.
Being a soldier’s spouse definitely came with a lot of challenges, she admits, but there were important things she learned along the way.
“Being independent. For me, my husband was gone all the time like many other military families,” she shared. “What I learned the most was definitely independence but also what the Army family is all about. I really fell in love.”
It was the tight-knit community and consistent support Holly found to be vital for their family.
“It’s all about human respect and helping each other no matter where you are in life,” she added.
Retirement from the Army is going well for Holly and her husband so far. She shares how she’s thrilled she no longer has to wash or iron uniforms ever again. Though they may have left active-duty military life, both are now pretty busy working for AUSA. But even with their work, Holly said her husband has been all in on what she referred to as the “honey do list.”
Despite the elevated position of leadership her husband held, Holly adds they weren’t much different than any other military families. As for their lives after Army retirement, she says they really enjoy doing home projects and family nights with him cooking his famous smoked pizza. She also deems her husband as “very thrifty.”
“He can make anything,” she said. “He makes our furniture, fixes our cars, and built the addition to our house … he even used to sew on things for my military gowns.”
He also built her what he calls a “she shed,” where she can work and craft in her own private space, designed just for her.
As for Holly, she reveals that she is a hot tea fanatic, with red rose being her favorite. As her husband deployed and traveled, she says he always brought her different teas from around the world.
“If I have a cup of tea and no matter how crazy the world is — that’s how I reground myself,” she said.
Looking back on her life as a soldier’s wife and now her new future, Holly said she’s grateful. As she digs into her role with AUSA her goal is to continually make sure the stories of Army families are not only told but that they lead to action.