Jennifer Jensen

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: Goodfellow Air Force Base

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 3

Share your military spouse story:
My spouse story begins while I was still active duty. My husband (AF Fireifghter) was on the opposite deployment rotation as me, so a week before he returned home I would leave, and it would continue to be like that, where we would never see each other. We both wanted a family so I decided to get out and further my education. It is hard going from the active duty member to a spouse, everyone just assumes the husband is the only one that is military. Right before I earned my Bachelors degree my active duty little brother passed away. I had spent an entire year flying from MacDill to Walter Reed Bethesda to take care of him while maintaining own family and college career. During my time at Walter Reed I volunteered to help many Wounded Warriors and discovered it was my mission in life to make the military/Veteran world better. I am now a Gold Star sister, disabled Veteran, mother of 2, and active duty spouse. My husband has supported and loved me through every endeavor we have come across, and I wouldn't be where I am today without him. I am currently working on my Masters of Public Relations and have every intention of working in the Pentagon to better the lives and wellness of all service members, active and veteran.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have won the prestigious 20 under 40 for the city of San Angelo, and was selected by a board to partake in the Leadership San Angelo program. When the community has a Veteran related issue they tend to come to me for direction. 2019 was the first year that the All Veterans Council was charged fees to have a Veterans Day parade, fees we did not have in the budget. I initiated a fundraiser and worked with several other organizations (Goodfellow Spouses Club & Elks Lodge) to ensure that the Veterans Day parade went as planned. The community enjoyed the parade and I would gladly go through all the hard times again to ensure that a tradition such as the parade honors those that served.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I am currently the youngest female to ever served as the Tom Green County All Veterans Council Commander. I am also the only Active Duty spouse to have ever served as Commander. I also work for the state of Texas as a Veteran Case Manager. I assist transitioning active duty members or primarily OIF/OEF Veterans in all aspects of their lives (employment, housing, education, VA benefits). My two military roles in the community allow me to give 100% dedication to serving our active duty families and Veterans. I participate in the Goodfellow Spouses club and I am a member of the Hiring our Heroes organization. This year I joined the AVC with the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Partner program and I assisted with pinning Veterans around the community that never got the recognition they deserved. Pinning those Veterans has been the most rewarding thing I've ever done.

Describe how you support your community:
Being the Commander of the AVC, allows me to assist the community in many ways. We are the sole organizers of the Veterans Day parade and the city Memorial Day ceremony. This past year we assisted the community by providing 3 struggling Veteran families with funds in order not to be evicted from their homes. We provided bus passes to Veterans in need of transportation. Project Poppy allowed the elderly community to participate in a community wide project, and made most feel included ad thankful. And I also participated in a clothing drive for the local family shelter and donated women's, children's and men's clothing.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for Active Duty & Veteran spouses, and especially mental health for Veterans. I enlisted otherwise forgotten about Veteran spouses to participate in the Poppy Project. This project was to make 1,000 red ceramic poppies to be displayed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for Memorial day. I went to retirement homes and 65+ communities and the spouses and service members were so thankful that I remembered them and this project allowed so many to show how much they loved heir service members. It was a beautiful project and everyone that participated were thankful and wanted to help do more. Spouses, even Veteran spouses, are a huge source of untapped resources. As a Veteran diagnosed with PTSD I advocate for Veteran & Active duty mental health. There is a stigma that needs to be broken so communities can see the true potential of all Veterans.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have a strong relationship wit this communities media outlets and they often ask me to speak on the issues discussed above. I have been on the radio, TV, and maintain a social media for the All Veterans Council that provides current Veteran and spouses issues. I also receive the latest legislation through my state job and email those interested about what is going on at the highest level and how it will affect us.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
First and foremost I would love to discuss the issues of mental health among our service members and our spouses. I would also like to involve the more elderly community of spouses and Veterans. After speaking with them during Project Poppy many of them feel forgotten, I would love to see more organizations recognize spouses and Veterans that didn't serve during wartime for the service to our country.