Rachel Toney

Branch: Air-Force

Duty Station: RAF-Alconbury-UK

Number of Deployments: 7

Number of PCS's: 6

About the nominee: Titles - everyone can identify with at least one. I identify with several. And while each has its own value, there are a few I am most honored and privileged to hold. First, I am Greg’s wife. Second, I am mother to Natalie (16), Dylan (11), and Kaitlyn (10). But the title that has run parallel to both of those, and has blessed me with continuous opportunities to serve my community to the point where my passion (giving back) and purpose (inspiring success in others) intersect, is that of a military spouse. Seventeen years as an Air Force Spouse has been a remarkable journey, one which has helped shape me into the wife, mother, military spouse that I am today. The 2016 portion of that journey includes the following activities: Served as Key Spouse Mentor, 423d Civil Engineer Squadron, Royal Air Force (RAF) Alconbury, England; educated spouses on the complexities of the overseas curtailment process, aided in balancing the pros and cons of consecutive overseas tours, and mitigated short notice relocation stresses due to squadron draw-down measures - - Volunteered as a Cost of Living Surveyor; priced 100+ items, resulting in a 55% COLA increase thereby equalizing purchasing power so families assigned to RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth can obtain the same level of goods and services locally as they would in the continental US - - Co- coordinated a huge morale event for the 2016 Super Bowl; planned and assisted with the installation of an Armed Forces Network satellite and receiver, and configured, installed, and donated A/V equipment to facilitate morale boost to military personnel and families stationed overseas - - Invested in future leaders! Mentored Air Force Junior Reserved Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) cadets on public speaking, military bearing, customs and courtesies, and proper wear of the uniform - - Provided critical insight and input for the first US Air Forces in Europe-United Kingdom (USAFE-UK) Key Spouse Symposium; transformed a vision into an all-day event which brought together Key Spouses stationed across the United Kingdom in order to support, inspire, and network; designed the event logo, which encapsulated our vision and goals, and created a promotional video that catapulted registered attendees from 17 to 96 in under a week - - USAFE-UK Key Spouse Symposium Speaker; spoke to 87 attendees and a Facebook Live audience across seven countries regarding best practices gleaned from over five years of experience as a Key Spouse, and the importance of building a Key Spouse Network - - Recognized for exceptional volunteerism and support to both on-base and host nation events by the RAF Alconbury British American Committee; Greg and I represented the US Visiting Forces and Spouses at our Mayor’s Civic Supper, fostering strengthened host nation community relationships - - Served as steering team member for the Chapel Women’s Ministry; developed content, topics, and materials for 22 attendees at the the spring retreat; assisted with MOMSnext to support and encourage moms living thousands of miles away from their familial support networks - - Created vivid new logos for the Protestant Community of the Chapel and its ministries; designed an easily recognizable logo, allowing people to quickly identify what services the Chapel offers and the spiritual resiliency programs available therein - - Created an icebreaker event for the Wing Commander’s Annual Face to Face; allowed 68 military members and their spouses from seven geographically separated units to get to know each other through a fun and unique experience - - Represented base spouses during USAFE Inspector General session; provided the key spouse perspective, highlighting both positive programs and family outreach methods, as well as areas where families tend to struggle - - Teamed with base Top 3 to broadcast 67 free movies for morale boost; over 4k attendees enjoyed access to first-run movies via the Army Air Force Exchange Service Overseas Program - - Supported AFJROTC Cadets; transported and chaperoned cadets for drill and marksmanship competitions, as well as local community USAF Memorial Site cleanup events; Perhaps more importantly, we fed donuts to the hungry teenagers! - - Honored Command Chief Master Sergeant with over 32 years of service; created graphics and game show for retirement dinner entertainment; webcast the retirement ceremony, so family who were unable to travel to the UK could witness the capstone event of an illustrious career - - Received mentorship of Wing Protocol Officer; sought lessons on script writing, event execution, seating, flow, and other logistical tasks that facilitate a smooth ceremony - - Chaperoned AFJROTC Cadets during US Veteran’s Day ceremony, Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England; remembered the 3,812 who were laid to rest and the 5,127 individuals who were recorded on the Tablets of the Missing - - Represented military dependents at the UK Remembrance Day Ceremony at Grafton Underwood; participated in a community tribute to the Mighty 8th Air Force, the sacrifice of US Military in defense of England, and the fight for freedom during World War Two.

Hobbies: My hobbies include reading, traveling, and graphic design.

Interesting Facts: I grew up in rural Indiana, along with my ten siblings, where I learned the intricacies of vehicle engines and the patience and resiliency involved in rebuilding a house after a fire.

What is something you’ve learned from being a military spouse? Everyone has unique gifts and talents to offer their communities. I spent my first few years as a military spouse intentionally disconnected from the support network that the military community offered. In 2001, Greg went to Korea for a year and the isolation I had worked so hard to establish became one of my greatest hindrances. It took a team of ladies motivating me to get involved with even the small things, so that I could understand the importance of having a positive support network. I began to learn that each day could be better than yesterday. I didn’t have to chain myself to who I was; I could use the lessons of today to be a new and improved Rachel tomorrow. My new-found attitude took a while to gain full momentum, but has been in perpetual motion since 2002. Now, my personal goal is to inspire military spouses to reach outside their comfort zone, thereby unleashing the power of their uniqueness, and strengthening the unity within their own communities.

In your opinion, what is one of the most important issues facing military families? Programs, such as the Exceptional Family Member Program, were designed to help military families but have created a maze of sub-programs and paperwork. Instead of being helpful, programs are now logistical nightmares. The DoD can do better and should be held accountable for creating simple and clear, yet complete, programs to benefit all DoD families.

What is one of the best aspects of being in a military family? The joy of having friends and “family” around the globe is one of the top benefits of being a military family. We grow because of those around us and being a military family means we gain new growth opportunities on a regular basis.

What is one thing you want to accomplish with the Military Spouse of the Year title? My examples of leadership, integrity, and commitment will motivate and inspire other spouses to become active and involved community ambassadors.

Reasons for nominating:

In all the years I've known Rachel, she has always went above and beyond to help her fellow spouse and make this military life a little bit easier. She's been a key spouse, president to an enlisted spouses club, helped set up for military balls, and knowing my family is fast approaching an overseas PCS (our first Pcs ever) she has been sending me links and info for months to help me be informed and make the best decisions for my family. She is passionate about helping families and although she feels she doesn't need recognition she definitely deserves it -- Jenna, Friend