ashley fischer

Branch:
Navy

Duty Station:
Naval Support Activity Bethesda

Number of Deployments:
2

Number of PCS's:
4

Share your military spouse story:
Nine years ago, as a single mom finishing nursing school with a baby with a kidney disease, I met my sailor. A whirlwind romance and one mom, who was convinced he was the "man God had shown her", had us married within six months of meeting one another. A PCS to San Diego and a couple of fights driving coast to coast, I felt like I became a real life military spouse in the grit of it all. I quickly learned "home is where the Navy sends us", as we were sent cross country and up and down the coast a few times. The one constant in each move was my spouse and the adventure loving a sailor assured me. I am keen on adapting, finding the silver lining, and creating life long friendships wherever I go that sustain me no matter what curveball the Navy throws our way. I am a nurse, mom, and wife with emphasis on the mom and wife as of late because life threw us the curveball of a lifetime on Christmas Eve 2018. While my husband was away at Rescue Swimmer School and, thank goodness, home for holiday leave, our two year old was diagnosed with a tumor in his brainstem. In one day, our world was shaken and our lives forever changed. Thankfully, military spouses are cut from a special cloth and are resilient. Thankfully developing community paid off big time as a community of 20 girls spanning from 7 different states converged on DC to save my family they love so dearly. A year later, we are living the dream, as I like to say, experiencing DC through the awe of our children with a newfound thankfulness for each day. Our children are seeing strength, tenacity, and the love of others through my advocacy for both children with brain tumors and my advocacy for safe military housing. Our family's journey is not over yet. With my husband's hopes of being a career service member, I have another decade of being apart of the military spouse community I so greatly admire and respect. If I've learned anything in my 9 years of being a military spouse, I've learned we are stronger together.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I believe in community. I believe every one needs someone to support them and we cannot do life alone. I believe, when times get hard, friends, spouses, support systems don't make the hard softer but make YOU stronger. For these reasons, in every duty station, I have participated in creating a community of spouses. From weekly mom and baby play dates in Charleston, when I so desperately needed moms to raise my kids alongside, to being the Ombudsman and champion for those spouses myself to weekly Monday night craft nights in DC to weekly community Bachelor viewing parties in SD. I have been welcoming, kind, supportive, and THERE for fellow spouses. In addition to creating spouse groups, I have become deeply involved in the Military housing crisis- participating in focus groups, becoming a board member of a local advocacy group, going in to the homes of concerned residents to calm their fears and support their needs.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I've participated in the Village Representative program, became a Displaced Resident Liaison, and am a Navy Ombudsman. I was approached to be a community representative when the military housing crisis broke in February. I declined then because our two-year old had brain surgery in January and was starting a year and a half of chemo. When mold affected our family's entire home, displacing us for an entire summer, I realized the problem in our community was real and saw how deep it ran. I created - with housing's blessing - the Displaced Resident Liaison. I've raised donations for three homes lost to house fires, outfitting just short of each entire home with community donations. With the help of local churches and veteran's organizations, I was able to provide displaced families a weekly pizza night, monthly dinner, convection ovens, and even Christmas trees. Through the holidays I organized a Trunk-or-Treat, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve dinner, complete with Santa and presents.

Describe how you support your community:
In addition to being inclusive to creating community on Navy bases as well as Joint Bases, such as Fort Belvoir, where we currently are, I strive to be inclusive of all branches. In Charleston, we developed a mom group, which hosted at least weekly play dates, that spanned across the city and encompassed both local Navy and Air Force bases. In DC, we developed a base wide advocacy group that spans across the services, the ranks, and the needs of the community. While my initial focus was strictly displaced residents and their immediate needs, collection of goods, information, and events has spanned across Active Duty, Reservist on orders, and National Guard spouses. I have participated in community events that have encompassed all of our local spouses and

What platform do you advocate for? Why?
In my personal life, I advocate for and have created a non-profit organization surrounding brain tumors and emotional support for families. Rhett's diagnosis has rocked my family's entire world, changing the trajectory of my husband's naval career. 13 children are diagnosed every day with a brain tumor and our family's fight is no different, except we are surrounded by a huge military community who loves and supports us. Professionally, this year, I have stepped on to the advocacy platform for safe military housing. Having personally lived in a home that was less than desirable and then helping over 100 families on Fort Belvoir alone, I have realized the need for safe homes and empowered military residents. I realize the plight of the Department of Defense, having to both manage the safety of an entire nation and the safety of their service members homes. Spouses are an integral part of bridging the divide.

How have you spread the message of your platform?
In the desperation of a hospital room, as I sat beside my almost three year old, fresh out of brain surgery, the #DonutsforRhett movement was born. Social media has been flooded for now a year with people eating donuts, paying it forward, raising funds and awareness in local communities across the globe. Because mine and many others' sick babies live in military housing, I became impassioned about the housing crisis in our own backyard. Rhett's story and the housing story of Fort Belvoir has been featured in numerous news outlets, raising awareness for both, as well as Rhett being the face of the Children's National Hospital holiday campaign. I admin a local social media information page with hundreds of members, as well as several business pages and a website. We've been invited to participate in galas, charity events, focus groups, to speak with Generals and Senators, and met with Senate and House Armed Services Committees.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
Life changes in an instant; it can be sickness, homes, deployments, anything. What I hope to accomplish as MSOY is to "man, train, and equip" the families of our military to have the resources they need when tragedy strikes. For me, my son's brain tumor changed my life in an instant, but for others its being #ambushedathome. I hope shining a light on the state of military housing will create dynamic discussions, which will bring proactive and effective results. I hope showing the need for more voices will bring about more volunteerism in the military spouse community for housing and advocacy groups, locally and nationally. Because right now it's not a matter of if, it's when.

Nominations

There is no other person that I know of who leads, works, coordinates, communicates, supports, and advocates for the military spouse more than Ashley Fischer. Ashley fights daily to improve the lives of military spouses at every turn. She founded and leads the Belvoir Housing Advocacy Group which she uses to unite displaced families due to mold and other issues in military housing and speak out on their behalf. She's attended congressional committee meetings and spoken to several national and local news organizations. Ashley enlists the help of local churches and outreach organizations to obtain items for displaced families such as: crockpots, pressure cookers (to use in hotel rooms), Christmas trees, decorations, and even presents. She holds “Displaced Family Dinners” to get people out of the hotel rooms and together for a hot meal. This is barely the beginning of what Ashley has accomplished.
- by jordan gillik

Not only is Ashley an amazing and supportive wife to her Husband. But this woman is a machine for the community. She started the Fort Belvoir Advocacy Group for Housing on our installation. She is so passionate about this cause it’s incredible. She cares for others as much as her own family. Because while she fights and advocates for better housing she is by her child’s side as he fights an inoperable brain tumor. She helps people even while her child endures chemotherapy once a week. She will drop everything to help the next person. She is kind and compassionate and empathetic to others. I’d like to nominate Ashley because she would represent military spouses with such grace and with as much drive as she does everything else. You get all of her. She puts 100% into everything she does.
- by kemis hancock

Ashley is an advocate for any issue going on affecting military families on Ft Belvoir. She has led the team though mold issues, helped new spouses adjust, and is the first to lead when there’s a fire or emergency and things need to be done. She does all of that and has a young, precious son with a brain tumor.
- by terra bingham

Ashley works tirelessly to keep the families on Fort Belvoir safe. She, with the help of 4 other women, created the Belvoir Housing Advocacy Group (BHAG) and goes head to head with not only housing but Garrison to ensure all families have safe homes. She is dedicated to everyone and often spends hours and hours away from her own family to help others. Shes a true inspiration
- by jessica johnson

In addition to the demands of being a military spouse, raising a special needs child and having a full time career, Ashley still somehow has the time and energy to lead a wonderful group of people that selflessly aid on-post families with all aspects of the struggle that comes along with displacement due to everthing from extensive mold issues to house fires. She fearlessly challenges the goliath Michael's Organization in order to improve the lives of Fort Belvoir's military families here on base.
- by darla horstman

She radiates true selflessness with a pure heart to serve others. Unfortunately Ashley's son Rhett has a brain tumor but even through this time, Ashley finds it in her heart to support military families in their own time of need. Shortly after being displaced from her home in June for mold at their Ft Belvoir home, she took the charge to become the Displaced Resident Liaison. She coordinates events for residents such as a Trunk or Treat, Friendsgiving and Santa coming to visit the displaced families during the holidays. She started a lending closet out of her home. Ashley encompasses strength, leadership and a giving heart all while keeping a smile on her face and encouraging families to advocate for themselves. Ashley supports locally as well as reaching outside of Ft Belvoir to create change for our service members. She meets with Senior Military Advisors, Senators and House Members to bring awareness to the crisis we are currently facing with base housing.
- by jessica carmean

When she found herself and family displaced in the middle of her son’s fight for his life, she started advocating and continues to advocate for families who find themselves displaced due to mold and other housing conditions/problems. She’s taken on two families who were displaced from fires, and rounded up entire new household goods for them-again, all while her son is fighting cancer. I can think of no other spouse more deserving than Ashley.
- by amanda thomas

She has gone above and beyond helping those on fort Belvoir who are affected by mold and rodent infested houses or whose houses are unsafe to live in. She fights for those who have been affected by fires and mold to make sure they are getting their houses repaired and remediated because our housing office won’t do it. She takes care of displaced families who have been removed from their home, many of them losing thousands of dollars of their personal belongings and helps them get the answers they need when housing won’t communicate. She helped raise thousands of dollars for a family who lost everything including their two dogs in a house fire. She is an amazing person and deserves all of the recognition and more for her work that she does for nothing in return.
- by kristina arbuckle

She is the best
- by helen dow

Has been completely selfless and giving, working to help families that have been displaced due to mold, water damage, and, recently, house fires. She makes sure that they don't feel isolated while stuck in hotels, advocates for them with the chain of command and even congress, all while helping her son go through treatment for a brain tumor.
- by barbara henning

Ashley is one of the strongest people I know. She is always so thoughtful and helpful and goes out of her way for any family in need. She noticed the strain with families in the community with displacement and she was stood up for those who needed it the most. Out of everyone who lives in the Belvoir community she brought hope to residents and created cohesion to all families. She is the most selfless person I know!
- by rachelle serl

Ashley has gone above and beyond to be the liason for all of the families that have been displaced on post due to mold (and that is a very high number). She also organizes meal trains and donations for those displaced, people who have lost their homes due to fire, and just about any other reason she can find to help someone. She's very special, and many of us would be lost without her. I haven't even met this girl in person! That's how impaction her role on base has been.
- by michelle a pettus

Ashley has gone above and beyond her needs in the military community in the DC area. Nationally, the military community has spent years dealing with sub-par and sometimes even downright dangerous housing. Many even compare the housing companies to slumlords. Now that the other shoe is dropping, Ashley has taken it upon herself to lead our DC military families. She's become an advocate for our health and safety, assisting families with relocation, touring houses post-renovation after mold remediations, advocating for improved conditions to the Fort Belvoir Garrison commander and even the U.S. Senate. Most recently, a family lost everything to a on-post house fire, including their two dogs. Ashley didn't miss a beat - she coordinated community donations - monetary, material, and a meal chain - and made sure the family got everything they needed to keep going. If anyone deserves to be recognized for her selflessness and dedication to our incredible community, it's Ashley Fischer.
- by casie davidowsky

I am nominating Ashley Fisher because I don't know any other Military Spouse who has gone above and beyond as much as she has. She created an entire advocacy group to assist military families and has devoted over 100 hours with no compensation to military spouses who are displaced from their homes in the Virginia area. She is never rude or cruel, opened a sharing closet from her HOME, and deserves this more than anyone else I know.
- by cassie-rebecca schwartz

This lady. Words do her no justice. In Christmas eve last year her youngest son was diagnosed with a brain tumor.since then she has started a non profit for him. On top of all that, she is an advocate for the displaced family members on Fort belvoir. She has made sure everyone e is taken car of. From getting families in hotels insta post, to making sure they got winter coats. She hosted over 50 people for thanks giving. And is planning a lot of other things for people who are very hopless this holiday season.
- by renee alumbaugh

Ashley Fischer is a homefront warrior, pushing through her youngest child’s fight against brain cancer while also advocating for and supporting the numerous Fort Belvoir families displaced from their homes in this military family housing crisis. A prior Navy Ombudsman, she took on the new role of Displaced Family Liaison, helping feed displaced families, operating a clothing, supply, and furniture depot (many items are lost to mold or the remediation process), and challenging both garrison leadership and the housing partners to provide necessary preventative maintenance and to honor the tenant and medical rights of the families who are pushed out of their homes. She engages with families at every step - from learning they need to evacuate their home, navigating the stress of impermanent housing, and to hopefully trusting their home is safe again. For more information about Ashley’s awareness campaign for pediatric brain tumors please look for Donuts for Rhett on Facebook.
- by john fischer