Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Luke Air Force Base
Number of Deployments: 0
Number of PCS's: 1
Share your military spouse story:
Military spouses comprise less than 1% of the population yet carry a much greater responsibility. I watched my mother ensure our military family found resilience and comforts at home, wherever 'home' may be. As the son of a retired Air Force pilot I was born into an Armed Forces life. I just never thought I'd have the opportunity to one day return to life as a military spouse. Military life is what happens when you make plans, and decades later, here I am, ironically stationed at Luke AFB; the same base where my mother was pregnant with me. While I was born into the military, my military spouse story is just beginning. My husband was commissioned as an Air Force Physical Therapist almost three years ago. Rejoining the military life meant one of two things at this point in my life; remain uninvolved, focus on myself, my career and the comfortable civilian world I've come to adapt to after college, or, jump in with both feet, volunteer, start again, meet new friends, take a chance, and make a difference in the military spouse community. Maybe it's new relationship energy. It's not an all or nothing option in between the two; but ultimately I choose to support my military spouse community with all I have. While time will tell if the work I do will have a lasting and positive impression on the military community; I have already found life-long friends and a second military family of my own. The joy far outweighs the challenges and everyday I'm rewarded. I hope to continue this effort so that others can find the same or even more comfort in their military journey. I aim to always do my best to make the best of every day, to ground myself in gratitude, and to recognize this is just my next chapter in the short book of life.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have my PhD and was a full time college business professor with a goal of becoming the Dean of our graduate program before my husband commissioned and our family PCS'd to Arizona. While I willingly made the decision to leave that career opportunity I witnessed first-hand the challenges military families face with the transitional nature of our role. My family relies on a dual income and after a few months of struggle, I was fortunate to connect with entrepreneurs in the local area to help grow a home service app that encourages military families and communities to grow stronger through meaningful services. The company helped create hundreds of thousands of dollars in opportunities for local military families. I was its Chief Strategy Officer and with the challenges through the Covid era, the business expanded. This experience sparked an opportunity to look into further developing military spouse employment opportunities. I have since partnered with Blue Star Families Spouseforce.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
In almost three years as a milspouse I have served in a variety of roles that have had immediate impact on my military community. I serve on a team supporting all DAF families. As the VP of Luke's spouses' club, in 2020, our team raised over $110K for charities and military families. As the chapter director of the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs we've connected several thousand military spouses and their startup businesses with tools to empower their success. I am a Key Spouse mentor for my base. I am a liaison for Operation Homefront and Operation Gratitude for Luke AFB. I am a Military American Red Cross Community Coordinator for our local squadrons. I teach Spanish, Italian and ASL through our Force Support Squadron to our local families and first responders. And I also connected 50+ military spouse support networks, by hosting or presenting podcasts and webinars in 2021.
Describe how you support your community:
I have discovered the best parts myself through my service to others. As we navigate our military spouse lives, we learn skills and lessons that make the challenges easier and increase our quality of life and personal success. I made it a point to better understand the wide (often confusing or overwhelming) resources available to the military spouse. I aim to share my found wisdom and experiences with others to improve their journey. Through everything from social media messages to a supportive text or connecting chats over coffee, I hope to point my fellow spouses in the right direction when they need assistance just as someone has done for me.
What do you advocate for? Why?
While military spouses comprise less than 1% of the population a smaller percentage of that military spouse population is male and an even smaller percentage of that population identifies as LGBT+. I have always cheered and supported other military spouses. I recognize our journey is unique and infinitely harder alone. But I wish to advocate for those who often feel they have no voice or struggle to find one. I advocate for those that never find themselves in photograph covers or recognized in the text of official branch documents. In the past few years I have strived to be a positive example of both a male military spouse, and a member of the LGBT+ community and that you will be supported and should be proud to be either or both. I've strongly advocated that it's time all organizations consider inclusive ways of honoring the traditions and heritage of the past while considering our diverse military community of today and beyond. Why? Because I know we will always be stronger together.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
The best and maybe one of the only positive things to come of the pandemic was the way we connected online as a community. Six degrees of separation became one or two. And with that, I have been able to meet and support hundreds of amazing spouses doing incredible things across the globe. I've served as a host or MC for more than ten global milspouse events, more than 50 guest speaker opportunities, over 100 class lectures, attended more than 75 continuing education courses, 200+ hours in trainings, became a Master Residence Trainer for the Air Force, finished a leadership certification from Harvard, graduated with the 1st military spouse cohort through the Military Spouse Leadership Development program, and have was featured on the Suze Orman Show as well as Nasdaq's TradeTalks shows. Each platform is an opportunity to communicate in public settings the importance of not only supporting military spouse communities but ways to begin doing so more inclusively and effectively right now.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I feel very comfortable navigating the military community, including high leadership, because I recognize at the end of the day we are all human, flaws and all, trying our best. I networked and moved forward more quickly than most in the milspouse world, opening doors for myself while always supporting others. With the title I would enjoy the privilege to present an underrepresented community. As a teacher, I've also learned to listen as much as I speak. Hearing the wisdom of those that have come before me helps me to reflect and share the pieces of myself I'm still creating and forming, the growth I have to attain and even things in my life I don't like to admit that still need work. It creates a sense of humility for me, and also reminds me that no one person place or resource is going to be the solution to any and all challenges. This is me. I am motivated me to be better than I was, to continue growing both myself and my network, and to always be the change and make a difference.
Adam is a great connector and has leveraged this skill with his business, InstantHandz. He is also a great advocate for LGBTQ+ spouses.
- by Kella Price
He’s a friend who is a super connector and well ingrained into Luke’s AFB. He also needs to have a platform to bring awareness to our LGBTQ+ military spouses.
- by Terra Myers
I nominate Adam because of the work he does within the community at Luke’s AFB. He is also the CSO of InstantHandz, an Assistant Professor of Business Entrepreneurship at the UofK, and a super connector. He created an entire inclusive LGBTQ+ sports team in Kentucky. He’s helped me with parts of my business, plus is always available when he’s needed. He has a huge heart and wants to bring awareness to LGBTQ+ military spouses. He wants to show that it’s not just women but also men that can be niched down even further to gay military spouses. This will help give him a platform to bring around change.
- by Melissa Green