Andrew Driscoll

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: Maxwell Air Force Base

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 6

Share your military spouse story:
I first met my wife in class at the University of Nebraska. During our early conversations I learned she was in her first semester of ROTC. I knew when we began dating the Air Force was going to be part of my life moving forward. We got married right after graduation and planned on serving out her initial four year commitment and then moving home. All I wanted to do was teach social studies and coach football. I found jobs doing this and enjoyed it immensely, but Shawna was great at her job. I could tell that she needed to keep doing her part for the mission. When the first four years were up we decided to continue the military path. Through the military family experience, I learned to not be prideful. I care for our family with the thought, "Shawna needs me to do this so she can serve our country." This means sometimes being a stay at home parent, commuting 45 minutes for our kids’ education, buying groceries and making dinner. I do all these things keeping in mind, "I worry about this so Shawna doesn't have to." We have decided, as a couple, for our family's future Shawna should try to get to retirement. Obviously this means a lot of moves. Our family has adopted the saying "On to the next adventure!" Every duty station affords our family the opportunity to learn about a different area and its culture. We have moved from Nebraska to Texas to Nevada to Ohio to Maryland to Germany to Alabama. We have endured Shawna’s deployment, temporary duty and shift work. We have experienced many parts of our country and the world giving our four children experiences that many adults can only dream of. It is one of our keys to success as a family, is finding the positive and learn from every experience. Our family loves this lifestyle, for all the challenges it gives, we get so much more in return.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
At the last two duty stations I have taken an active, official, role in leadership. I served as a Key Spouse for the 693d ISS in Ramstein, I attended monthly meetings with the commander giving input on how to serve the needs of the squadron. Being a point of contact between squadron leadership and families is a large responsibility, and is a capacity I am forever grateful for the opportunity in which to serve. Currently at Maxwell I serve on the Air Command and Staff College spouse board as a social chair. Here I work for more male spouse inclusion, I find that it is not the women on the board not wanting male participation, but the male spouses themselves that need a push to attend events. I use my connections through an unofficial Maxwell male spouse group on Facebook and have met friends I encourage to participate in our social events. During board meetings I have been glad to give "the male perspective" when asked, and am thankful for such an inclusive group that cares.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
It took me a little while to want to become involved in the military community. Early on I would feel excluded by spouse groups whose email chains would start off "Hey Ladies!" I found online support through Facebook and the Macho Spouse page and have been an active participant on their forum for almost ten years. Through programs like Dave Etter's Male Military Spouse Radio Program I discovered if I wanted to feel included I would need to include myself. I began attending and really engaging at squadron events not just sitting in the corner and have found it very rewarding. Through the Macho Spouse site I have been able to make connections to unofficial male military spouse groups in Ramstein and Maxwell, becoming part of a large support system we can all use. I served as a Key Spouse for my wife's squadron and I am currently a social chair for the Air Command and Staff College spouse board. I have found people want the male perspective and I have been happy to give it.

Describe how you support your community:
The last two years we have lived in base housing. My wife and I have made an attempt to make sure people know our house is a place where people can come and enjoy the warmth of friendship. That is often times literal as we love to get the fire pit out and make s'mores with neighborhood families. Making sure there is a place for others to come, especially when overseas, and just relax with a good home cooked meal is great for mental health. I truly believe without the support of those who understand the struggle; this life would be much more difficult. Sometimes you just need to jump a neighbors' car or fix a flat tire. Sometimes life gets people down and a walk around the neighborhood can do wonders. We were happy to contribute to Airmen food drives so our younger service members could have a nice Thanksgiving dinner through our local Airmen's Attic. I am always available for these kinds of community services.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I would like to see any spouse who wants a job to get one. There are programs to help but unfortunately the good intentions of these ideas don't come through. For example, in Ramstein the spouses are supposed to get preferential hiring through USAJOBS. In reality this doesn't happen or spouses are woefully underemployed. I had my paperwork lost twice to be able to substitute teach, and the DOD education system has a background check that takes on average of 3 months. I lost a year of earnings because of carelessness with nowhere to file a complaint or get any answer other than "try again." When I would apply for other work through USAJOBS, the whole system is online and, if you do not fill out the questions with the right key words you are deemed "unqualified" even when a resume matches all key criteria. I would really like to see the programs updated with a process that goes through an actual person first and if a person is denied they should be told why and given a contact number.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Through Facebook and the Macho Spouse page when I see the opportunity to be interviewed about my life as a military spouse I try to make myself available. I have been formally interviewed twice, once specifically was about my work search issues, I do not believe that article ever materialized, however. I have participated in contacting members of congress and I know things are getting better. In the area of licensing for teaching I can now get a reimbursement for the fees to get a new state's license and I am able to get military spouse reciprocity in many states. I actively encourage people to continue contacting representatives to continue to make these processes as easy as possible for military families.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I want to become an advocate for the male military spouse community. I want to continue to bridge the gaps to make sure all military spouses feel they are included and heard. I want to bring awareness to employment issues facing military families making sure financial stability is not an issue. Most importantly I want to continue to offer support, both formal and informal, to our military community in any capacity which I am able.