Tiffany Chamberlain

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: Joint Base Charleston

Number of Deployments: 2

Number of PCS's: 2

Share your military spouse story:
My military journey started 10 years ago at Dover AFB. We had the privilege of living there for 5 years.There, I was actively involved at Major George S. Welch elementary . I became a key spouse for the 436 aps and enjoyed it so. Shortly after I was diagnosed with stage 4 endometriosis, thanks to IVF we now have our youngest son. We received orders to charleston, SC during my husbands 2nd deployment. We were so excited for our new journey.We bought our first home together and started making memories in the low country. My oldest was finally settled in his high school and loved it! Band was everything to him so I immediately jumped in to life as a band mom, I was also homeschooling my youngest through preschool. About half way through homeschooling I noticed a change in my body, my energy was drained. It was then when I knew I could not homeschool anymore.I enrolled him in kindergarten. Soon, I would find out that I had a rare disease. So rare that I am the only one at JB charleston who is steroid dependent. If your wondering, I have Addisons disease also known as adrenal insufficiency. Everyone has adrenal glands that give off cortisol to help your body survive every day mentally and physically. My body easily becomes overexerted and even a common cold or flu could put me into an adrenal crisis. When this happens my vital organs can shut down, my blood pressure drops, I can go into cardiac arrest or even a coma. It wasn't until now that I really saw the importance of staying in one place not only to receive the proper medical care but also to have peace of mind. One part of me became more adventurous but another part of me became restricted and apprehensive. I have always loved life but felt like suddenly the life was drained out of me. I have always seen myself as a strong woman and I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Every day in life is a blessing. My family is my world and I know that together we can get through anything.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
For me it was always important to bring woman together from all different squadrons, I would host many events and parties so that we as military spouses would always have eachother and have someone to relate to. There is something so great about relativity. You feel part of an amazing team. You then have the mentality " hey we can get through it all"." we've got this". That is so important. Another thing that meant alot to me was to help those going through marital problems. I have lost so many of my dear friends to military divorce. I am sure you can relate. I became protective of my friends and made sure they had the resources they needed. There were nights of tears shed on my shoulder, burdens I wished I could fix and take away, families broken. After that I felt like I should host bible studies for couples in our home and couples game nights, to add fun to their marriage again,in Hope's it would work and bring couples closer together. Commraudery and togetherness is so important.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
At Dover it was amazing being a key spouse for the first time. I also decided to enroll in the enlisted spouses club at both bases. Taking care of security forces, was also very important to my family as well seeing that they protect us 24/7. My oldest son and I would take them plates of food, beverages, and cookies and treats. I also helped organize and host Thanksgiving dinner for dormitory airmen.This year I helped organize and plan squadron events such as the 437 APS Halloween party and the polar express christmas party. Being available for anything a spouse may need advice or help with was also important to me. Being a military wife you appreciate the togetherness and camaraderie. We need to be eachothers biggest fans, we can see things through the same pair of eyes. The way of military life. It is so important to be there for new spouses, even if it's a smile, friendship or advice. Having a mentor is important. We have all been there once. We get it.

Describe how you support your community:
To me it is important to not only support my military community but to also support my local community. Community is so important. I have been very involved with my son's marching band . I have organized and set up silent auctions, bake sales , a fruit sale fundraiser, decorated and planned parties and chaperoned games and field trips. I am also active in my youngest sons kindergarten class. I organized and executed a ladies tea & coffee house with short skits, treats and speeches. In Hope's of empowering woman to be vulnerable .I sang on my churches worship team. I am also a firm believer that support starts at home first, supporting my husband and children and letting that infiltrate into everything I do. It is important to me that my children see the importance of serving others and having a heart and love for people.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I would have to say the platform I advocate for is for military spouses suffering from a chronic illness. Not only do these people suffer from and illness, the have to keep surviving and keep their homelife stable while their spouses are deployed. Why do I advocate for them? Because these people are important. They are sick but they matter. Often times when we get diagnosed we can let the illness absorb who we are as a person. I want these spouses to know they are more than just their illness. They can do great things. This does not put a stop to who they truly are at the core. They are who they envision and make themselves become. We perservere. I also platform for women as a whole. Being United as a front. A strong one too. We are a force to be reckoned with. This year my goal is to host more events for ladies to get together and socialize. So that no one feels alone. This is for the reason that together we are so much more stronger as a community and much more resilient.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have found several military personnel and spouses around the country with addisons disease through a adrenal insufficiency support group. We bring so much help and comfort to eachother. Adrenal insufficiency is so rare. I am the only person stationed here at JB charleston that has it. This year I would also love to host a ladies event with the ENFP program as well. We are woman and families sharing our struggles, and there is a friendship and understanding in that. I would also love to have a run to support adrenal insufficiency and to help financially support clinical research and to make people more aware of this disease.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I hope to give people a new found hope that there is something amazing to look forward to, to inspire, to achieve. It would really mean the world to me. I just want to make a difference. In a world of such hate and diversity I want there to be a sense of belonging and peace for everyone. All it takes is one person to change someone else's life and to make a difference. One person to reach out. You have to reach out. I pray through God's grace that is me who is reaching out, and making a change.