A few years ago, my Marine asked me what I thought about which Marine Corps Base I would prefer over another… I didn’t know anything about either duty station and ended up spending hours googling, only to get exhausted in the search with nothing concrete in hand. I knew right then and there that things needed to change and I was going to do something about it. I was tired of not knowing what kind of schools my kids were going to go to, what base housing was like, what activities there were to do, or understand the overall impact it would have on my family. I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to create a community of spouses to get the ins and outs to families out there, hopefully saving on many bad haircuts, ‘I wished I would have known’ and missed opportunities.
I created USMC Life in July 2009, taking opinions from other military spouses who have lived on those bases. I tried creating a site filled with insider tips, school report cards and information about every major Marine Corps Base including base guides, base housing and photos, schools, youth programs and sports, getting to and from each installation and links helpful to Marines and their families. After I created the base guide, I decided to go another step further and create a referral guide for military spouses that not only Marine Corps families can utilize, but all of our nation’s services
We are not advocating that what you read on this site is fact, but merely opinions of other military spouses. It’s just an opinion ~ feel free to take it or leave it. Enjoy the journey!
Kristine, the founder of USMC Life, has spent 17 years together with her Marine. She and her current active duty Marine have had three children, several duty stations, and a wealth of life experiences to rely upon. She has endured four wartime deployments, been involved in many volunteer programs, clubs, and more. She understands what it is like moving a brand new baby across the country with a potty-training toddler in tow, and knows the wonderful reunion of her Marine meeting their nine week baby for the first time after returning home from deployment.
Kristine has both a BBA in Business Management and a BBA in HR Management from Boise State University as well as an MA in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University. In her spare time she likes to read books and drink copious amounts of red wine with friends.
USMC Life Team
Abbey Bertolone, Semper Fiesty Program Manager: Born and raised in Michigan, Abbey met her Marine, then a Lance Corporal, on a blind date to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. She immediately fell in love and began following him everywhere. Since their wedding in 2004, they’ve been stationed in Virginia, Okinawa, Tennessee, and currently, California. Along the way, they brought three beautiful, energetic children into the world. She met Kristine a few months after USMC Life helped her PCS to Camp Pendleton, sight unseen. She’s honored to be a part of the team and hopes to help other spouses as much as Kristine has helped her. Abbey is a performer at heart, always looking for a stage to sing on. Involved in many community theater productions, worship teams and some karaoke every now and then, she keeps busy while her Marine serves our great nation.
Ashley Strehl, National Advertising Executive: Born and raised in Michigan, she attended Central Michigan University where she met her Marine. They both graduated from CMU and were married a year later. They have been married for four years but she has been a part of the military lifestyle for five. In that short time she has experienced duty stations on each coast, California being her favorite! She loves to run, drink red wine, bake desserts and anything fashion. Her biggest love is spending everyday with her little fashionista in training. Ashley and her family are currently stationed in Texas.
Jackie Heatherman, Semper Feisty Radio Co-Host: I have lived in California for most of my life. I grew up in a relatively normal family. I kind of played around after high school and went to community college for few years. I was waitressing and going to school when I met my husband, Brian. He is 12 years older than me and had great hair. A year after we met I became pregnant with our daughter Brooke, who is now almost 7 years old! We lived at Camp Pendleton while he deployed. Two years ago we moved to Virginia. I started working as a Realtor and got burnt out, and then Kristine and I started Simper Feisty Radio in October of 2012. That lead to my current job at Volt and the rest is history. Oh, I had another kid and his name is Jake. He’s 4 and really, really, cute.
Marine Corps Base Representatives
Camp Lejeune: Kristina Whitfield is a Air Force brat that married into the Marine Corp family 3 years ago and is a Texan at heart. Constant relocating is more of a hobby then a sacrifice and is pcs’ing from Okinawa to America soon. She loves to workout, craft, go to the beach, read and explore places with her little travel companion. After becoming a stay at home mom, she starting to research ways her family can save money without sacrificing the quality of life. Money saving research has become another hobby and she loves to tell about her finds. You can see more of her money saving tips, housewife life, and mommy tales at Phenomenal Housewives.
Camp Pendleton: Kim Costello grew up near Kansas City, Missouri where she knew she would never settle because of her appreciation towards movement & change. For this reason, she has become a real dynamo when it comes to involvement within the military community. Wife of a 12 year Marine Corps veteran and mother of three, she keeps herself actively involved serving as a Family Readiness Assistant with Combat Logistics Battalion – 5, where she often contributes ideas to help improve morale among military spouses. When she is not toting kids to and from activities, she is thriving as USMC Life’s Advertising and Base Representative for Camp Pendleton. Amid her community outreach endeavors, Kim is also a full-time student expecting to graduate with her B.S. in Human Resources and Management. As if those pursuits are not enough, she is also an active member of Stroller Warriors™ Camp Pendleton, a running group designed for military spouses. In the midst of all of her undertakings, she continues to passionately seek opportunities that allow her personal growth.
Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii: Charlotte Berry (photo/bio coming soon)
Miramar Base Rep: Mandy Deines was born and raised in Denver, CO. She met her Marine at 16 and they have been together ever since! They have spent most of their time in the Marine Corps stationed in San Diego County and were lucky enough to be stationed in Germany for almost 5 years. Mandy currently works full-time and has been in the commercial real estate industry for over 7 years. She has a B.S. in Marketing from Liberty University and is working on a Graduate Certificate in Strategic Online Marketing from the University of San Diego. She is most passionate about travel and experiencing new cultures with her Marine. She also enjoys volunteering in the local community at The Brother Benno Center in Oceanside, CA, and La Posada de Guadalupe, a men’s homeless shelter in Carlsbad, CA. In her spare time, Mandy enjoys reading, Zumba, shopping, and brewing beer with her husband. She is very excited to be part of the USMC Life team.
Quantico North: Kari Cillo is a born and raised Jersey girl. She attended college at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania where she received her B.A. in Interpersonal Communications. BU is where Kari met her Marine and in 2010, two years after graduating college together, they got married and moved across the country to California. During their time at their first duty station, 29 Palms, Kari graduated an online program and received her Advanced Certificate in Graphic Design and Digital Photography. One thing after another led to Kari starting her very own business, K.Cillo Photography. When she isn’t working, Kari enjoys DIY projects and crafting, loves spending time with family and friends and while a ‘girls night out’ is fun would rather spend time with her friends with some yummy wine, in comfy sweats, watching a chick flick. Kari is also an avid runner. She regularly donates her photography talents and her time to the local trail and ultra-running community and along with her husband, an ultra-runner himself, is a member of Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. When they find time, the Cillo’s can be found hiking or running in the mountains. Amid all this, Kari enjoys volunteering her time and talents where ever she can and is very excited to extend her community outreach by working with USMC Life in the MCB Quantico area.
Washington D.C. and Quantico South: Holly Vega hails from Rock Hill, South Carolina and has had the pleasure of working in the dental field for eight years. As a military spouse, she has held multiple positions within the various clubs including Officer Wives Club, Officers’ Spouses’ Club, Women of the Chapel, International Wives Club, Key Volunteer Network, and as a Lifestyle Insights Networking Knowledge Skills (LINKS) in the Family Readiness Program. She has been married to her Marine for 16 years and is the mother of three as well as her handsome English Bulldog, Rocky. Her family has been stationed at five different duty stations including Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, MCAS Cherry Point, MCAS New River, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, and Marine Corps Base Quantico