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Share your military spouse story:
Hello. To all those who visit my page, welcome! I’ve been a military spouse now for nearly eight years and in the beginning, I always thought I was going to be stronger and more resilient than those around me. I was wrong. I needed them; I just didn’t know it at the time. Once I was able to swallow my pride and learn to lean on other military spouses, I found my footing to become someone others could lean on as well. My education as a nurse and my experience as a Key Spouse has given me a platform to advocate for others. The time I spent as the Chairman of the Patient Advisory Council for Hurlburt taught me how to listen, how to navigate a complex system, and how to increase access to care. It is the first place I learned and taught leadership about the suicide risks of military spouses. Volunteering as an Air Force Military Spouse Advocacy Network mentor for two years has opened my eyes to the diversity of spouses within the ranks. No matter their age or location, we spouses all share the same trepidation with regard to the mission, deployments, and finding out how we fit in this military realm. In 2019 while my spouse was deployed, he informed me that deployed locations would not be receiving the Avenger’s Endgame movie. I took the initiative to use social media to get the attention of the CEO of The Walt Disney Company. I asked Mr. Robert Iger if he would consider sending the movie to Bagram. He answered me within an hour, and within four days the movie was screened to nearly 1,000 deployed troops. Because of momentum from that interaction, this December Bagram will also be the recipient of the newest Star Wars movie. Through the power of networking over $1,000 in Star Wars merchandise was collected to distribute to the deployed personnel of Bagram Air Base at the movie premiere. The flood of 'thank you' emails I have received from deployed troops has been the biggest reward. You can hear the emotion in their messages as you read.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Avid Weapons School and AFSOC fan attending most change of commands and speaking events at Hurlburt while encouraging other spouses to attend and learn more about the base and the mission Key Spouse 14th WPS School Chairman of the Hurlburt Field clinic Patient Advisory Council Air Force Military Spouse Advocacy Network mentor Successfully coordinated with the CEO of the Walt Disney Company to bring Avenger's Endgame to Bagram Air Base and subsequently 41 deployed locations with the commitment to bring the new Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker, to Bagram Air Base in December Collected over $1000 in Star Wars merchandise to distribute at the Star Wars premiere event at Bagram Air Base Coordinated with multiple vendors to gift military spouses baby products in exchange for product reviews.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Key Spouse 14th WPS School Liaison between command, squadron spouses, and schoolhouse spouses to maintain support and keep communication open between leadership and families. Chairman of the Hurlburt Field clinic Patient Advisory Council Brought forth information about increasing access to mental health care for dependents suffering in the AFSOC community. Air Force Military Spouse Advocacy Network Mentor Coordination with new or even seasoned spouses in need through email support. Utilization of community and military resources to ensure the utmost support is provided in times of need or crisis.
Describe how you support your community:
Right now besides the Disney initiatives, my primary focus is on supporting spouses through a coordinated effort with companies that offer baby products in exchange for reviews. With no obligation to the military spouse, over 100 car seats, strollers, toys, and humidifiers have been sent out to military children all over the world. These items range in price from $50 to over $100 and are being sent exclusively to military spouses totally free. So far, the feedback has been great and it is just getting started! 2020 is going to be an incredible year and we are going to help so many military families!
What platform do you advocate for? Why?
The most significant part of my role as a military spouse leader is always going to be mental health and access to care. It is a daily goal to post on social media something uplifting or information on how to access care. My phone is always on and I'm often found taking time to speak to a spouse in crisis via a referral from a friend. My message is still clear, 'It will get better, you are loved, you are wanted, and you are needed. How can I help?' More people need to be told that it is okay not to be okay and that help is available. Suffering in silence is what leads to tragedy, and we need to take steps to prevent that.
How have you spread the message of your platform?
Social media is a great way to promote my platform. I have a Facebook group and Twitter with nearly 2000 followers. I try very hard to convey a message of inclusion. By sharing my struggles with mental health, it destigmatizes depression and anxiety by creating a safe space for discussion about internal battles. Social media has been a blessing and without it, I would not have had the opportunity to get the attention of the Walt Disney Company's CEO, Robert Iger, and I would not have had the chance to boost morale at Bagram and 41 other deployed locations. In addition to social media, I have appeared in print in the greater Emerald Coast area, multiple news outlets online, including Stars and Stripes, People Magazine, and even The Hill. I've been on ABC interviewed for my philanthropy and maintained a good relationship with all those that have covered my advocacy this past year.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
The AFI Military Spouse of the Year title could bring greater opportunities to meet with leadership and discuss my mental health platform and ideas I have to help reduce suicide in the military. These are conversations that we need have and the more visibility these topics receive, the quicker the stigma fades. Being able to represent my peers as a bold advocate is a position I am always proud to hold. If I were to win the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title I would do my best to ensure that the needs of the spouses across the Air Force are heard and that discussions are not just had, but solutions and calls to action are put into motion.
Kat advocates relentlessly to make the world a better place for service members and their families. I recently had the privilege of reviewing a paper Kat had written about treatment management of service members who have been diagnosed with PTSD after deployment for a class assignment. When discussing the target audience, she included non civilian care providers, and then went into detail citing ways to ensure effective care delivery while aligning it with evidence-based best practice. Kat addressed a critical issue where a previous knowledge gap had existed. I am a better nurse because of Kat’s work and thankful for what she has taught me.
- by andrea reed
Kat tweeted to Disney CEO Robert Iger to bring Endgame to Bagram. 4 days later movie was screened by 800 troops. 41 deployed locations received the movie and were able to participate in the event. Subsequently, the Disney company is now bringing the new Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker to Bagram the second week of December 2019.
Kat was invited to go meet the troops at Bagram by AAFES president
2 years as a Military Spouse Advocacy Network Air Force Mentor
Advocate for mental health. Former Key Spouse of the 14th Weapons School, Hurlburt Field, 2 years. Prior Chairman of the patient advisory council Hurlburt Field. Created a ‘Pay it Forward’ initiative that pairs baby companies looking for online reviews with military families in need. To date has given out over $23,000 in merchandise to active duty and retired military families. Currently in talks with Fallen Heroes Intrepid Spirit about alternative screenings for PTSD and increased mental health protocols for active duty.
- by christopher conzen
Kat Lancaster is a well rounded military spouse who’s commitment to the military and their families is exemplified by the hard work and research she dedicates to the members of our military. One of Kat’s most notable efforts this years was reaching out to the Disney company and requesting that new releases be available for our overseas men and women. This request was answered and the Disney company continues to support our military by sending new releases to deployed locations. Kathleen is a bright, well rounded woman that strives to leave no questions unanswered. She understands the sacrifices made by our military families as well as her community. This winter she gathers blankets and sleeping bags for the homeless in her community, so that they may be able to be warmed throughout the cold months ahead. Kat sacrifices have made our community more wholesome and exemplifies what is required from the military spouse of the year.
- by vanessa papineau
Completely dedicated to helping the military and the families in any way possible. She is passionate about her work and pushes through any obstinate thrown in her path to reach her goals.
- by danielle taronji
Kat is the definition of a supporting military spouse. She has raised money and received gift donations to create care packages to send to troops overseas, reaching out to the Disney Twitter fan community for support. But what really sets Kat apart is how she was able to reach out to The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger and send an advanced copy of Avengers: Endgame to military bases overseas so that the troops could see the Marvel Blockbuster film at the same time that their family and friends could see it back home. Kat is humbling and a true friend, I nominate Kat Lancaster as the Military Spouse of the Year.
- by adam elmers
Kat has become a dear friend of mine and has always shown me kindness, support, and love. Not only to myself and her friends, but especially to her husband as well and always shows her pride that she has for our armed forces. She makes me proud to not only be her friend, but to be fortunate enough to have amazing people such as herself and her husband not only advocating for us as Americans, but ensuring the safety and well-being of this country.
- by elliott mondry
Kat is one of the most wonderful & supportive people I know. From her husband, to her friends, to the military folks around the world that she helps through Disney.
Not only is she a great friend, but she's also a really wonderful wife, and one of my favorite people that I've met this year.
- by jason m burrows
Kat has worked tirelessly on behalf of her husband and the military in general. Through her strong social media presence and advocacy, she has achieved great things for the armed forces. She successfully lobbied the CEO of the Walt Disney Company to screen their hit film Avengers Endgame, and it's currently organizubg a massive donation drive for her trip to bring Star Wars to Afghanistan. She is a fearless advocate for mental health, and she had saved innumerable lives through her work in suicide prevention.
- by brian resler
Love her involvement and interaction with fellow military spouses. I know she has our (military spouses) best interest in mind in whatever she does.
- by christina bryant
-She invited Disney to bring Star Wars to Bagram and proceeded to collect over $1000 in merchandise for Star Wars premiere giveaways there. She brought it to Rob Iger's attention that the Disney premieres are very much needed in those arenas. Prior to her involvement, Disney had ceased bringing all premieres to all troops overseas.
-She is an AF MSAN mentor and mental health advocate. She has spent her entire time as a military spouse fighting for access to care from the "inside" as a nurse. She fights for suicide prevention that works and fights the stigma around mental health for military members. She headed the Patient Advisory Council at Hurlburt for a year, as well.
-She brought a product review program exclusively to the military spouses of Hurlburt and Eglin that provided baby items free of charge to families.
Besides all that, Kathleen is one of the best people I know. When you need information or need something taken care of, she's the person you go to.
- by amanda koolis