Jestephanie Thompson and Dr. Donald Bradshaw with their spouses.

A Tribute to Our Country’s Military Spouses

“Seeing their commitment, sacrifices, determination and service to each other, our military and our nation is inspiring.” – Dr. Donald Bradshaw, Chief Clinical Officer, TriWest Healthcare Alliance

Every year in May, we get the opportunity to pay tribute to the nearly 1 million military spouses across our country.

These military spouses serve as the backbone of our nation’s military. They provide comfort and support to Service members, while at the same time managing their households, handling parenting duties, maintaining and building their own careers, uprooting their lives when necessary – all with a deep love and commitment to their spouses, our military and this country.

Today we pause to listen to the stories of Jestephanie Thompson and Dr. Donald Bradshaw, two TriWest Healthcare Alliance (TriWest) employees whose reflections are a testament to the strength and dedication of our military spouses.

Meet Jestephanie Thompson

Jestephanie Thompson, Registered Nurse (RN), is a Manager for Utilization Management Appeals and Reconsideration at TriWest and a proud military spouse.

Jestephanie was born and raised in New Orleans and has lived in Houston for the last 20 years. Like many military spouses, she has a career she’s passionate about. Jestephanie has practiced nursing for 24 years with experience in everything from clinical nursing and managed care to workers’ compensation case management and utilization management. In her free time, she loves to spend time with family and friends, cook, shop, craft and travel.Jestephanie Thompson with her husband.

Jestephanie has been a military spouse for the past four years. In those four years, she has learned firsthand some of the many rewards and challenges that come with military life.

Jestephanie said becoming a military spouse has inspired her to live her life with more gratitude.

“I am thankful for each and every day that I have. I have learned to live each day to the fullest and enjoy life with all the people I love,” she shared.

While Jestephanie and her husband work as a team supporting each other and making sure the household functions at its best, she loves fully supporting her husband while he actively serves.

“I am there to facilitate whatever he needs done to make things as seamless as possible in our daily lives. His everyday appreciation, help and love make it worth it for me,” she said.

Because of their close relationship, Jestephanie admits that it’s hard to be separated for extended periods of time while her husband is on deployment. But in the same breath, Jestephanie understands the sacrifice and risk that comes with the job, and she sees the joy it brings to her husband to serve. She described it this way: “There is a deep appreciation for the reward it brings to my spouse for serving which in turn makes me happy.”

Jestephanie’s husband has entered the final stages of his military career after serving in the Air Force for 22 years. Her pride in his service is evident.Jestephanie Thompson’s husband getting sworn in for his final reenlistment.

“I’m so very proud of him for all that he’s done and accomplished with little to no complaint. He has a passion for his job and loves what he does even as he nears retirement,” she said.

Jestephanie shared how special it was for her to be a part of his final reenlistment.

“I was filled with so many wonderful emotions seeing him take an oath to continue to serve our country for the last time,” she recalled.

It was a moment they shared that she’ll cherish forever, she added.

When Jestephanie thought about some of the unexpected aspects of becoming a military spouse, she noted how surprised she was at the outpouring of thanks and appreciation she and her husband felt from the community.

“I have encountered numerous people willing to provide support with calls, text messages, letters, prayers and random acts of kindness, like a willingness to pay for meals, buy groceries or gifts – anything that may be needed,” she said.

Jestephanie recognizes how important that support is to her, her husband and other military families.

“It’s so special because it comes from the heart. There are no strings attached to the kindness and support given to military families,” she said.

Meet Dr. Donald Bradshaw

Donald Bradshaw, M.D., is the Chief Clinical Officer for TriWest. He is a retired Army physician with 32 years of military service. He is also the spouse of a retired Army Colonel, making his story a unique one to share.

Dr. Bradshaw and his wife met as ROTC scholarship cadets at Wheaton College where Dr. Bradshaw’s wife was part of the first graduating class of women awarded ROTC scholarships. After leaving Wheaton, Dr. Bradshaw and his wife both went on to serve long careers with the Army.

Dr. Bradshaw graduated from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences School of Medicine and completed his family medicine residency at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center. Later, he earned a Master of Public Health from the University of Washington. His last role in the Army was to simultaneously command the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center and the Southeast Regional Medical Command. After retiring from the Army, Dr. Bradshaw consulted in health care for the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and commercial health systems. Dr. Bradshaw joined TriWest in 2023.

As a senior at Wheaton, Dr. Bradshaw’s wife became the first female commander of the ROTC unit. Her impressive and lengthy career includes being commissioned in the Adjutant General Corps, holding commands at company and battalion levels, earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA), being in the 2nd Infantry Division G1/AG in Korea, and retiring as a Colonel.

For the 23 years of his wife’s military career, Dr. Bradshaw was an Army spouse.

“As a spouse, I supported my wife in her career which included multiple commands and overseas assignments,” Bradshaw shared. “It gave me insight into the joys and stresses of sharing my wife’s career.”

Dr. Bradshaw’s role, serving as both an active duty Service member and a military spouse, helped him see many of the different sides of military life. Dr. Donald Bradshaw with his wife and daughter at his wife’s promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.

“Participating in the activities of the spouses allowed me to see, hear and better understand the Service, commitment and strength of military families,” he said.

Dr. Bradshaw explains that this insight helped to shape his work as well.

However, Dr. Bradshaw admits that coordinating two careers and a family wasn’t always easy. He talks about daily struggles like coordinating schedules and calendars, as well as the tougher challenges of distance and separation. Like Jestephanie, Dr. Bradshaw said the time apart is the most difficult.

Being a geographical single parent for 15 months when his wife was assigned to Korea as he remained in Tacoma, Washington, with their daughter was a challenge.

But those difficult times also gave Dr. Bradshaw many gifts, including a strong relationship with his daughter.

“It drew my daughter and me closer,” he shared.

Dr. Bradshaw was also struck by the selflessness and compassion of the community around him.

“It showed me the willingness of others to assist, from babysitting to offering to care for our daughter when I had to be at the hospital to allowing me some flexibility in my schedule to just listening,” he said.

These acts of kindness gave Dr. Bradshaw the assurance that support was available even though his immediate family was many hours away.

This strong sense of community among military families is something both Jestephanie and Dr. Bradshaw felt deeply. Dr. Bradshaw recalled several moments of shared joy and pride when one of the Service members was recognized in some way.Dr. Donald Bradshaw with his wife and daughter at a Change of Command.

“Whether a promotion, an award, a retirement – all of us celebrated,” he said.

Dr. Bradshaw was also moved and surprised by the willingness to serve that he saw in the other spouses.

“They were very busy in their own lives and yet consistently serving to support the military and local civilian community. Jumping in even though their time at a certain location may be short,” Bradshaw shared.

He has been inspired by the families of other Service members he’s gotten to know over the years.

“Seeing their commitment, sacrifices, determination and service to each other, our military and our nation is inspiring,” he said.

We agree.

Dr. Bradshaw and Jestephanie, and the nearly 1 million military spouses around our country, thank you! We recognize the challenges and hardships you’ve faced, we honor your sacrifice, we celebrate your contributions to our country, and we are grateful for your service. As Dr. Bradshaw shared, there are many ways we can show our support to our country’s military spouses.

“Accept them into your communities, welcome them, befriend them, support them and pray for them,” he said.

Tell us what you think.

* Required form fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.