Military Spouse of the Year shares confinement experience in Italy

Military Spouse of the Year shares confinement experience in Italy

2020 Military Spouse of the Year Brandy Brosnan of Smithfield lives in Livorno, Italy, with her husband, Ryan Brosnan, and two children. She leads the Girl Scouts Overseas at Camp Darby, which is on lockdown due to the coronavirus.

SMITHFIELD – Smithfield’s own 2020 Military Spouse of the Year Brandy Brosnan is forced to talk about her recent award from the confines of a military base in Livorno, Italy, where she and her family have been in lockdown since March 9.

Brosnan, a Smithfield native, said she and her family are doing well at Camp Darby, where she heads a USA Girl Scouts Overseas program.

Much of the Scouts’ meetings, including cookie sales, have been put on hold during the lockdown, which was put in place due to the deadly coronavirus. The ban limits free movement and public events and has closed commercial and retail business except for essential goods and cases of necessity.

“We’re holding virtual meetings, for now, to stay connected in some way,” Brosnan said.

COVID-19 has hit Italy hard, with the most deaths of any country.

Brosnan said Italians are offering incredible civility and a sense of community throughout the lockdown. She said she’s started homeschooling her two children, who ate all the “good snacks” in the first few days of confinement.

“It’s really been hit hard. But, there’s so much positivity spread around,” Brosnan said.

On a military base of 160, Camp Darby is populated with active duty Air Force, Army, Italian Army, and civilian workers, with around 40 to 50 in the U.S. Army. Everyone is at home, quarantined.

At night, her neighbors play music that can be heard in her yard. Everyone is offering a helping hand to one another, she said. If she needs groceries or other household supplies, she is allowed to go to the store. According to Brosnan, no more than four people are allowed into the store at one time.

“We’re not allowed to go out. It’s been rough,” she said.

She and other members of the Darby base are posting pictures and updates online to let friends and family know they’re OK.

Brosnan’s commitment to the community and building normalcy in the ever-changing military-family life is why she was selected for the 2020 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year award.

Like the virus, Brosnan said life as a military wife changes every minute. She took on the role of making the best of it for herself and her community. Friendship, volunteerism and community are “invaluable.”

“I am very proud to be able to represent Camp Darby as well as to say that I am and always have been proud of where I grew up,” Brosnan said.

Brosnan said she advocates for empowering girls and families through community service opportunities and volunteerism. This week, Brosnan set up a nature scavenger hunt, and also sent out a 30 days of random acts of kindness challenge for the girls to earn badges at home.

Brosnan met her husband, Ryan Brosnan, in Johnston while working at Home Depot. The couple married, and Ryan joined the Air Force in 2008. For the next 12 years, the family of four moved several times, including to Utah, then South Korea and eventually Camp Darby, where the family has lived since 2018.

She said she transitioned to staying at home over the past five years, and in that time, has dedicated her life to helping other military families feel welcome. Brosnan said her role as a military spouse includes being a last-minute dog-sitter, a problem solver, a shoulder to cry on, and a positive source of advice.

“We could all use a little help now and then. I have always loved helping people,” she said.

“Being a part of a military family is not always easy. Being supportive of our spouse and their work, their good day, and their bad. Helping our children transition into new schools and make new friends,” Brosnan said.

For Brosnan, helping her daughter’s transition to move a semi-settled life once again meant looking for a sense of normalcy and friendship. Last May, she took over as Girl Scouts Overseas community chairwoman, troop leader, registrant, cookie manager and treasurer at Camp Darby.

“After taking over, one of my goals was to ensure our girls were more involved with our community,” she said.

When taking over as troop leader, Brosnan said she listened to the girls’ wishes, which included wanting horseback riding, camping exercises, and community fundraising events.

While future events are in limbo right now, she is grateful that her troop is healthy and safe, and is looking forward to when she can resume her meetings. A member of Camp Darby military base tested positive for COVID-19, so Brosnan now fears there may be several more weeks of lockdown.

“Everything will be OK,” she said.

For more on her award, visit msoy.afi.org .