I recently spotted a friend and fellow instructor’s Facebook post about getting military wives involved with firearms training. Nicolle Griffin, a certified instructor and a chapter leader of The Well Armed Woman, is passionate about helping this particular group of ladies become confident and comfortable with firearms.

“These are mostly just young wives whose husbands deploy,” Nicolle explained, “and I decided to offer them [firearms] lessons any time they want. Slowly but surely, they’re starting to take me up on the offer.”

Nicolle is so determined to help, she doesn’t even charge for her services. “But I do get paid in smiles and in knowing that these women are empowered…and they are going to be safer,” she stated.

This dedicated instructor is already helping numbers of military families and making a positive impact in this often-overlooked community. Here is the story one of her newly empowered students, Heather Casebeer, shared:

“My husband was stationed in Yuma, AZ, as his first duty station. We lived on base for about six months when we decided we would both be happier in a house out in the country with a big yard for our dogs. We moved off base and into a lovely house about 15 minuets out of Yuma. It was quiet and away from all the people and traffic, so we were both happy with our decision to move.

“In May of 2014, we took a two-week vacation to Kansas [to visit family].

“On the way back home to Arizona, we decided to drive non-stop and make the trip shorter. Needless to say, we were both very tired by the time we arrived back at our house around 7:00 in the morning.

“When we came in through the garage and began unloading the car, my husband asked me why I had opened all the cabinets. I began looking around the house and noticed all the cabinets as well as the front door were open, and all of the electronics were taken from the living room.

“In a panic, I dialed 911 and told the dispatcher we had been robbed. She asked if the robbers were in the house, and since they were not, I was given the number to the County Sheriff’s Department and was told a deputy would be by our house soon. As we walked around the house to take in what had happened, I cannot describe the feeling of seeing everything you own thrown about and torn apart and knowing strangers had been in your house and touched all your personal belongings. Our home office was destroyed, with papers and desk drawers thrown across the room. Our bedroom was a mess, with the pillowcases gone, more than likely used as sacks to carry our belongings out of the house. And every single piece of jewelry that I had was taken.

“After everything that was left was cleaned and put away, my husband went into town and bought a .38 Special revolver. I was scared to be in the house alone or come home from work alone, so he was convinced this would make us—me—feel safer. When he showed me the gun he said, ‘Here is the trigger; there are no bullets in it. Point it at the ground and pull the trigger.’

“After dry firing the gun one time in the living room, he put it in a box and left it next to his bed. Having the gun in the house did not make me feel safer. I was now even more scared because I had no idea how to load, unload, hold, or shoot the gun. Now I was praying the robbers didn’t come back only because I was terrified I would have to touch the gun again. The gun did not do much to make me feel safer in my home, so two months after the robbery, we moved into town in a house with a security system. I was beginning to feel safe in my house, but I was still scared of the gun. I asked myself, ‘Why is this thing that is supposed to keep us safe so terrifying?’”

Heather goes on to say that, still having never touched a gun besides the one dry fire, she began seeing Nicolle’s posts on Facebook regarding the importance for women (especially military spouses) to feel comfortable and confident with guns. Heather then made the decision to seek out training with a group of women she described as just like her…because these women shared the same fear of guns their husbands left in their homes to “protect” them.

Heather thoroughly enjoyed her training and gained a lot from the experience. But she also realized there’s more to learn. “After spending an evening with Nicolle and a couple of women from The Well Armed Woman,” she stated, “I admit that my fear is not completely gone, but it has definitely lessened. And I am excited to get back to the range so I can find the gun that works for me. I have a feeling it will not be a .38 special revolver!”

Undoubtedly, simply having a firearm in the home doesn’t make you safe. It’s understanding and training with that gun that can make you safe. And Heather was able to learn that and become confident and responsible with firearms because Nicolle recognized a need…and offered to help. That deserves some recognition and applause—for both of these amazing and empowered women!