Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Peterson AFB
Number of Deployments: 1 and 1 upcoming
Number of PCS's: 5
About the nominee: I am a proud product of the Air Force! My father served for 32 years and we lived all over the world in joint assignments. My first husband served for 18 years before he died by suicide, and my new groom is an Air Force Reservist with 13 years of service. We are empty-nesters, and while missing the boys, we are enjoying our new Chapter. As a spouse, I am Key Spouse for the 960th NOS, the president of the Colorado Springs Lance P Sijan Chapter of the Air Force Association (AFA) (third largest chapter with 2000+ members and recently named the Outstanding XL Chapter of AFA), and the in-coming Military Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chair through the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. I work as a marketing and proposal specialist for MTSI, headquartered in Virginia. To show my support for our Defenders, their spouses, and family members and with the partnership of the Colorado Springs community, I have raised more than $230,000 in in the past 12 months to: - Offset the cost of the Key Spouse luncheon at Peterson AFB to include lunch, gifts, and childcare with community sponsors - Personally coordinated and handed out more than 500 tickets, food vouchers, and parking pass, provided by sponsors, to military families (all services) to 16 home games for the Switchbacks FC soccer games - Recruited a combined 7 new sponsors for quarterly/annual awards and special events held by Air Force Space Command (Peterson), 21st SW (Peterson) , 310th SW (Schriever), 460th SW (Buckley), USAF Academy (USAFA), and 50th Space Wing (Schriever) - On the committee to organize the NORAD 60th Anniversary Ball - Co-chaired the inaugural Multi-Domain Command and Control (MDC2) Symposium with 260 attendees representing 4 states and which included a half day Enlisted Professional Development session (120 attendees and 20% were E-3/E-4) - Helped raised, as sponsorship chair, $32,000 for STEM scholarships for military members and their families with an annual golf tournament - Co-chaired the annual Air Force Ball with 800 attendees and offset ticket prices with sponsorships - Helped five traditional reservists and their family members get employment - Saved my family's military discounts for 2017 and donated those savings ($2500) for a spouse scholarship through AFA. Because of that donation, another family member matched the funds for another scholarship to equal $5000 - Chaired a Wounded Airman Benefit with a Casino Night and raised $6000 (almost 2.5 times more than previous years) for the Wounded Airman Program
Hobbies: I love to play golf and we travel when we can. We especially like to go for the weekend to the mountains where there is no cell or internet service to recharge. Music is our de-stresser. There is nothing like getting lost in the music of a Philharmonic concert!
Interesting Facts: In October of 1983, at the age of 15 while stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, I played tennis against a pro tennis player who would later become the number 1 player on the Women's Pro Circuit. A week later, I won the golf championship for the DoD schools in Germany. Three weeks after the win, I experienced a massive stroke on my right side. The prognosis was not good; if I lived, I would most likely not walk again. After being stabilized enough to be aero-vacted to Wilford Hall for surgery, it took me a year to learn write with my left hand and to walk again. About that time, my silver streak in my hair started growing in. I wear it proudly as a reminder that there is a silver-lining to everything. As a survivor, I have been working on getting National Day for Survivors recognized. We are all survivors of something; broken heart, lost job, illness, death,... We help each other put one foot in front of the other and March 4th and conquer! We would love to see March 4th as a beacon of hope, even for just one day, for those in the throes of Life's test to realize they are resilient and we can overcome any challenge together.
What is something you’ve learned from being a military spouse? As a military spouse, I have learned to get embedded in my community, whether it is Okinawa, Japan or Omaha, NE. I believe in the acronym FREE : Foster Relationships Energetically Everywhere. By being embedded in our communities and fostering relationships, we become better people and our communities become stronger. If you get the chance, take it and if it changes your life, let it!
In your opinion, what is one of the most important issues facing military families? There are many unique challenges for military families to include license reciprocity for spouses; continuity of services for special needs families; but especially for Reserves families is the disconnectedness. As a Key Spouse for a AF Reserve Unit, we have members throughout the country who want to wear the uniform and serve their country. To do that, they give a weekend (sometimes more) of their families' time once a month; three additional weeks a year; are repeatedly and heavily used in deployments on a 2-3 year rotation; have a unique challenge of working multiple jobs; must be trained and certified as much as the their active duty counterparts, but are, in many cases, considered JUST part-time. The epidemic of suicide in our Reserves is high. As a Reserve military family, we do not necessarily have EYES on our members to see that there is something amiss. As Key Spouse, I reach out to those not local and make sure I contact the Airman & Family Readiness Unit closes to where they live for resources for them. As some of our members in our unit get ready to deploy for 4 to 6 months, our communication and connectedness will become even stronger.
What is one of the best aspects of being in a military family? One the best aspect of military life is the sense of community. We have a comradery wherever we live. We are a safety net for each other no matter with what service we are affiliated. We understand the challenges and requirements of this military life and we help each other and our civilian communities journey through it.
What is one thing you want to accomplish with the Military Spouse of the Year title? I heard a saying a few years ago, which resonated with me. Life is a tough teacher; we take the test first and THEN learn the lesson. We cannot necessarily be there to help others through the pop quiz, but we can help tutor through the lesson. Suicide prevention is something I have been working on as an aspect of an overarching issue of helping people overcome obstacles in their teaching/lesson moment. Let us use our resiliency and lessons learned to help others transition from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) to PTG (Post-Traumatic Grow). My family has experience the anguish of a suicide and the lasting effects. If I could go back in time, well I'll just say hindsight is 20/20. After 10 years, we are ready to share our story. Let our 20/20 hindsight be others 20/15 foresight.
Reasons for nominating:
Kristen gives of her time to support our military members (all services) and their families. She is a product of the Air Force and knows the joys and heartaches of serving in the military as a family member. She is the President of the Air Force Association’s local chapter (2000+ members); Vice Chair of the Military Affairs Council in Colorado Springs; Key Spouse for my unit at Peterson AFB; ambassador for her employer, MTSI, with the military; an advocate for suicide prevention after the loss of her first husband; and just earned her MBA in November. She is MY spouse and MY nominee for Military Spouse of the Year. -- Sean Lange, Family