Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Schriever Air Force Base
Number of Deployments: 2
Number of PCS's: 0
Share your military spouse story:
My name is Amber Conroy, friends and family would describe me as outgoing, driven, dedicated and enthusiastic about life in and out of the military. First and foremost, I am a mother and wife, but I am also passionate about my roles as a Military Spouse Reserve Mentor for the Military Advocacy Network, and Director of Public Affairs for the Nebraska Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. Within these platforms, I am honored to support both the Civilian and Military communities. Being a military spouse for over a decade has shown my husband Matt and I how to love deeply, whether that is together, or over long distances. We have had many incredible opportunities during our marriage, but also heartache. We struggled with infertility and after years of costly and exhausting treatments, we were thrilled to find that we were pregnant with twins. Eventually we lost one of the twins. During our lowest moments, we were shown love and support from our military family near and far that got us through the death of our child. I have had some very scary experiences while Matt was deployed where I didn’t have any information about his health and safety. I recognized some key areas for improvement in the communication and support networks for military spouses and have used my position to do everything in my power to better them. I am honored to be nominated for such a prestigious title as Military Spouse of the Year. The nomination described me as “advocating with kindness and a never-ending dedication to putting people at the forefront of policy.” Those words mean so much to me, as that is truly my goal. I want to support people in their efforts to better themselves, their families, and the military community as a whole. I strive to not only continue my search for areas of improvement, but implement the changes that will lead to a better future for all of our armed forces.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
This past year we collaborated with Smithfield Salutes program and led the Operation Homefront Back to School Brigade and Toy Drive in Lincoln, NE. Our city compiled nearly six thousand toys to military children for Christmas and seven thousand worth of school supplies to nearby bases and schools. This past summer I was honored to work with the owner of the Lincoln Stars Hockey team and a local national guard spouse to lead a successful Military Appreciation Night. With this honor the Nebraska Warrior Hockey team donated thousands of tickets to local military personnel and their families. The night of the game, news broke to me that the hockey rink was completely sold out. The community came together that night to honor their service and commitment to our country. Additionally, now at every home game a local service member is now honored with tickets and presented with a personalized jersey.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
My life experience as a military spouse inspired me to serve. In my free time, I attend community outreach programs and meet with leaders of the community to talk about our military families. Feeling a strong responsibility with the platform I have been blessed with, I was able to address current policies and strive to better help our community unite. As a reserve spouse and living hundreds of miles away from your military installation you often find yourself disconnected. By joining The Military Advocacy Network, I have been connected with and mentored military spouses across the world, some I have never met in person and yet we have became family. Last year I was honored as a guest with the MSAN volunteers to speak to the second lady of the United States staff at The White House on firsthand military spouse issues.
Describe how you support your community:
When we moved back to our home town I knew I wanted to get involved. After a quick search on our Chamber of Commerce website I became a member of the Lincoln's Young Professionals Group. The opportunities became endless. This group opened doors to have conversations with government leaders and connected me with those who have the same passion as mine, supporting our armed forces. Eventually leading myself to participate in the 5th Annual Lincoln Veterans Parade. There is a sense of pride with being able to be a heard voice that shapes the community you live in. I had the honor of being selected as a committee member that was able to give the gift of giving back. Our committee was given a budgeted amount to donate to various nonprofits that were local. We believed that every little thing helped. Additionally, I worked with our city Mayor to sign a proclamation to put our city on the map for Hidden Heroes to increase resources for military and veteran caregivers.
What do you advocate for? Why?
Advocating for the unique needs and issues surrounding our guardsmen and reservists. Our military gives all to protect the freedom and are used now more than ever supporting the mission. When our guardsmen and reservists are not active the benefits and resources change dramatically. My family was personally affected by this. During a snowstorm our furnace died in the middle of the night. Our home warranty expired two days beforehand. The company came out the next day and estimated the cost in the thousands, something that we didn't have readily available because of a family emergency that left us using our savings and credit cards. We applied for multiple aids and emergency assistance but because of his duty status we were denied. Our military community stepped in and had our furnace replaced without question that week. The overwhelming support from military families in all branches in our time of need gave my husband and I a sense of belonging. A feeling that many others need.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Nearly half of our fighting forces are made up of the Guard and Reserves. Each one leaves behind family, their community and job. We are able to brief civilian employers, showing our service members in action doing their job that is critical to our mission. I was blessed to share my voice by being interviewed several times by our newspapers, news stations and radio stations about my advocacy work for military spouses and their families. I also had the opportunity to talk about my platform to the Nebraska delegation in Washington D.C and worked closely with our Congress about current policies.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
Some choose a new years resolution at the beginning of every year but I choose a word to live by. This year my word was unite. How fitting in a country where we feel so separated on ones political ideology or views. I don't feel like the divide is so great that we cant bridge it. We can and we will. It is imperative to me that spouses and family members feel supported and empowered by their military community. This year I want to take the time to listen, encourage other spouses to do great things, help other military spouses rise up with their voices and help give a more can do attitude. It’s all about being better for each other, no one achieves greatness in isolation. If honored with this prestigious award, I will live up to my chosen 2020 word and work together to unite our community in and outside the gates.