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Share your military spouse story:
Six years ago I married my high school sweetheart. Within a year of being married, I became not just a mother but also took on the role of a proud National Guard spouse. I have a true passion for helping others and do so whenever I can. Throughout the years, volunteering has been an integral part of my life. I have volunteered with the Girl Scouts of America, Relay For Life, National Cherry Festival, Skilled Nursing Facilities, community benefit dinners, Operation Homefront, and now as the SFRG Treasurer for my husband’s unit. I have an extensive background in healthcare, holding titles anywhere from Certified Nurse Aide to Business Office Manager. I am currently the Operations Manager for Choice Autism Center, which provides ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy to children with Autism. Throughout my years in healthcare I've become an advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. The last 6 years have been absolutely wonderful. I am so thankful for the opportunities that I've been given to help both inside and outside the military community. I look forward to continuing my professional growth as well as my involvement within the military community.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
My goal is to always help when and where I am needed. I started by arranging donations for our unit's annual Christmas party. A little over a year ago I found out that our unit was in need of a Treasurer and I was happy to step in. From there, I signed up as an Operation Homefront volunteer, picking up donations from Dollar Stores in our areas and dispersing them throughout the state.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Since becoming a military spouse I have I have sought out ways that I can help support my husband and his unit. I started off as a gratuitous volunteer, helping to collect donations for our unit's annual Christmas party. I am currently serving as the SFRG Treasurer for my husband's unit. Upon coming into the position, I noticed we had a great need for other volunteers and was able to get multiple volunteers to help the unit by collecting donations and helping at our annual Christmas party. I also coordinated with area stores to collect school supplies and Christmas donations through Operation Homefront. December of 2019 I was honored to receive the Commander's Coin of Excellence for my work within my husband's unit.
Describe how you support your community:
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?’”, some would say I was born to be a caregiver. I have spent most of my career in the healthcare field. I spent 7 years caring for elderly, both in their homes and in skilled nursing facilities. Through this time, I found my passion to be working with those with both dementia and disabilities. I’ve learned over the years that so many people in our community often feel alone and as if their voice goes unheard. I have made it my mission to change that. I have been a listening ear, a hand to hold, and at times a shoulder to cry on. After almost a decade of focusing on adult care, I have now switched my focus to helping children with Autism. My community will always be an important part of my life and I look forward to having more opportunities to show my support in the future.
What platform do you advocate for? Why?
Since my husband joined the National Guard, I have discovered there is a high need in educating families on available resources that the military provides. With military families not living near a base, it can be a struggle to not only get connected with resources, but to even know what is available. My ultimate goal is to work closely with organizations, helping military families who have children with disabilities and connecting them with area resources such as Operation Autism and Autism Speaks.
How have you spread the message of your platform?
I have started to attend area expos to better educate myself in the resources offered in our area. With National Guard families living throughout the state, using social media and email has helped spread the word on area resources. I would like to continue to use those resources, but also to be considered a Key Spouse and referred to families with disabled children looking for resources.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
Considering my transition from long term care was fairly recent, I still have a lot of learning left to do, but my hope is to be able to help military families who have children with disabilities, and ensure they are connected with the resources they need. I also aim to assist families who are PCSing have a smooth transition of care for their loved ones who are in need of these resources.
Ashley volunteered to be the treasurer for her husband's unit. Since starting with the Family Readiness Group she has gone above and beyond her call. Ashley is an amazing community supporter. She works at a local autism center. Her heart is always in the right place.
- by jessica brutzman