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Whitney Armstrong

Branch: Air-Force

Duty Station: Shaw-AFB

Number of Deployments: 0

Number of PCS's: 4

About the nominee: I have been an Air Force spouse since 2013 and have moved with my husband four times in four years. I graduated college in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in English Secondary Education from the University of Northern Colorado. I taught in five schools, in four different states, working to make a difference in the lives of over 1,500 children. I helped facilitate activities for students such as student council, prom committee, tutoring, and coaching track and field. I have always had a passion for helping people; from holding uplifting signs on a street corner during a devastating Colorado fire, to independently raising funds for the Autism Society of Colorado. My husband and I arrived at Shaw AFB in January 2015, and I was pregnant with our son, Holden, shortly after. At Shaw, I became a Key Spouse; it has changed my outlook on what it means to be a military spouse. With help from the AFCENT Director of Intelligence and the Squadron Commander of the 51st Intelligence Squadron, I started two Key Spouse programs from scratch and won the Key Spouse of the Year award for the 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing in Feb 2016. Since winning the award I have made it my goal to make an impact on the Key Spouse program worldwide and work to help change/enhance military policy. On the most local level I volunteer at a community homeless shelter feeding over 150+, and assisted in the collection of donated items for the YWCA Women’s Shelter. I have created multiple meal trains for military members who are experiencing a hardship or celebrating a new baby. At the squadron level I have helped to hand-make gifts for deployed spouses, raise funds/gifts for families during the holidays, and facilitate squadron morale events. Base-wide, I have been chosen to be the MC for our base Heartlink program, welcoming new spouses to the military and Shaw AFB. I attend Right Start briefings and brief the incoming personnel about the resources available to them and their families. Nationally, I have participated in the Secretary of the Air Force’s Spouse and Family Forum, and liaised with SECAF Deborah Lee James on social media to propose a National Key Spouse Conference. Most recently, I have been volunteering for MilSO Box LLC to begin a charitable program where military spouses of deployed members at Shaw AFB can receive donated care packages on behalf of the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation followers. This is the flagship location and will grow to other bases across the world. With over 1,300 hours volunteering in the last year, I will continue to do everything I can to make a difference for the people around me; I believe it is my purpose.

Hobbies: I like to sing, dance, and cook… but I am only good at one of those things. I’ll let you decide which one! I can be silly and funny, even if my son is the only one laughing. I grew up in Colorado and developed a deep appreciation and connection to the outdoors. I enjoy going on a drive, walk, or hike through nature. I've loved getting to move around the country and appreciate what the world has to offer. My biggest hobby is to spend quality time with my family. Whether we are volunteering together, making dinner, or on vacation; nothing brings me more joy than being with them.

Interesting Facts: I was a tour guide on the Manitou and Pike’s Peak Cog Railway for multiple summers, where I rode to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain twice a day, five days a week, with over 200 people/train. I have enough corny jokes to fill up at least 3 hours of your time. I've also been a bartender, waitress, teacher, and YMCA membership associate. Another interesting fact is my passion for throwing the discus. I competed at the Junior Olympics in high school and I was a state champion my senior year. I also threw on a Division 1 college team at the University of Northern Colorado. Since that time, I have loved coaching middle and high school athletes and hope to continue that passion.

What is something you’ve learned from being a military spouse? If there's one thing I've learned as a military spouse it's to be outstanding. To be outstanding is to be flexible, resilient, patient, and strong. To be outstanding is to literally stand outside of the crowd and find solutions to common problems, help for those who need it, and kindness when it's hard to find. To be outstanding is to be an open minded, hard headed, strong individual who can make friends with the entire spectrum of people and not be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. I've learned to persist and follow my heart no matter my location. There is beauty in every place and every person, you just have to know how to look for it.

In your opinion, what is one of the most important issues facing military families? The separations are inevitable, the environments can be difficult, and the life is not easy. With all of the unknown factors facing military families, life can feel isolating for even the most seasoned spouses. In my opinion, the biggest challenge facing military families is the gap between resources and utilization. There are multiple programs created for military families to ease transition, separation, medical care, college degrees, EFMP, childcare, and so much more. In this technological day in age it can be hard to know where to look or who to trust. There are countless programs that exist but jumping through the hoops of communication can deter those that really need them. This issue is why I've become involved in the global conversations about military policy and do my best to help families at Shaw AFB. I've taken it upon myself to create a toolbox and better resources for our Key Spouses who sometimes act as "boots on the ground". Some programs simply can't survive due to lack of funding or utilization, but that can be changed with the right approach to fix the problem. Our children and our families deserve the best we can give them, so why not try to be a solution to the problem?

What is one of the best aspects of being in a military family? There is nothing in the world more beautiful than sitting in a room at a military installation with hundreds of people from all walks of life who are there for the same purpose, the deployed spouses of our United States Armed Forces. The military life forces you into unfamiliar locations and difficult situations but we are stronger because we have each other. Although we are not blood, we share a family through feelings. We share the feelings of sadness during deployments and separations, joy during homecomings, comfort during hardships, and support always. There's is no greater bond than that of a military family and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

What is one thing you want to accomplish with the Military Spouse of the Year title? The Military Spouse of the Year title would give me the opportunity to continue doing what I love most. I have been working very hard to positively impact military families and make changes to Air Force needs. This title would give me the platform to speak out and represent the strong men and women of our military heroes and make a difference on a larger scale. My ambitions are only inhibited by my dreams, and my dreams are endless. It would be an honor to represent a group of people who are some of the strongest and most influential people I have ever met.

Reasons for nominating:

Whitney Armstrong exemplifies every amazing characteristic of being a military spouse! She is dedicated to her husband, her son and supporting their committment to the safety and security of our country. Whitney is passionate about helping other military spouses and families with learning how to manage the joys and difficulties of a military lifestyle; in relocating, through separations and enjoying the extension of a military family. Whitney has dedicated countless hours of community service as a Key Spouse, Right Start presenter, Heart Link coordinator and numerous additional volunteer opportunities at Shaw Airforce Base and in the Sumter community. Whitney Armstrong deserves to be recognized and appreciated for her selfless dedication as a military spouse! -- Kristy Ishmael, Friend

Whitney Armstrong exemplifies every amazing characteristic of being a military spouse! She is dedicated to her husband, her son and supporting their committment to the safety and security of our country. Whitney is passionate about helping other military spouses and families with learning how to manage the joys and difficulties of a military lifestyle; in relocating, through separations and enjoying the extension of a military family. Whitney has dedicated countless hours of community service as a Key Spouse, Right Start presenter, Heart Link coordinator and numerous additional volunteer opportunities at Shaw Airforce Base and in the Sumter community. Whitney Armstrong deserves to be recognized and appreciated for her selfless dedication as a military spouse! -- Kristy Ishmael, Friend

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