Branch: Space Force
Duty Station: Peterson Space Force Base
Number of Deployments: 1
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
Hi, my name is Amy! I grew up as a small town girl who knew nothing about military life. My husband & I met when he moved to my town during high school; we dated several years later in college & I knew he was in ROTC; then we got married 2 weeks after we graduated & he commissioned into the US Air Force. I tell you that, not to bore you, but to show you that I had no idea what I was signing up for in saying "I Do" to a military man! During my years as a military spouse, I’ve had to set aside my own career to follow my husband’s calling; I’ve moved suddenly to places that I didn’t know existed; I’ve grieved the deaths of 3 of our children while we lived far from family; I’ve managed our home through a deployment & many, many TDYs. I can personally testify that this lifestyle is not easy! But, it is worthy. Despite the pains & feelings of isolation that come in hard times, I have learned to make friends wherever we live; I have met people from around the world & had my eyes opened to the magnificent impact we can have as military spouses; I have learned the value of intentional community. God has blessed our family with people to walk alongside us in every season, the easy ones & the difficult ones. He has given me a mission to speak life & hope to military spouses everywhere. Through my experiences, I've become passionate about connecting military spouses & families with each other so that no one feels alone. Each person is valuable as part of our military community! Our entire military is strengthened when spouses learn to care for & serve each other. In Colorado Springs, I focus much of my time on connecting military wives through Christian community in a ministry called Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC). This ministry has given me the opportunity to lead women from all services & life phases in life-changing discipleship & fellowship. As a mom with young kids, I also participate in squadron functions, library activities & life on base.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Within the military community, I have served both as a Key Spouse & as a Key Spouse Mentor in 2 squadrons, actively connecting military spouses with helpful resources from across the base & striving to create a network of support for families while their service members are deployed. I have also helped lead women in Christian discipleship & fellowship through Protestant Women of the Chapel for 6 years & counting. Over time, I have set the strategic vision of this ministry, established & supported the spiritual direction of the group, managed the finances of our ministry within the resources of our Chapel, planned & executed both in-reach & outreach events, lead women in small group Bible study, & worked closely with many Chapel staff members to ensure that this vital ministry continues to operate effectively through each change of command. Through all of these roles, I have had many opportunities to communicate digitally with others, lead small groups, & speak to large audiences.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
The military community in Colorado Springs is very diverse & dispersed, which means it can be easy for people to feel isolated or forgotten. My greatest desire for military families in our city is that they feel connected & valued. When I meet people & find out they are a military family, I ask about their story & work to connect them with contacts I have in their zone of life, with services in their specific area of need, or with fun ideas that help families thrive in their area of town. By living here for 6 years already, I've had the opportunity to engage with families at Fort Carson, Cheyenne Mountain, Peterson, Schriever & the USAF Academy. I've learned to speak Army, Air Force & Space Force family lingo, which helps me make these connections across services even. Support for spouses is most important during times of need, so I love to make & deliver meals to families & offer a word of encouragement in the moment. Each story matters so that everyone feels heard.
Describe how you support your community:
My personal mission is to support spouses & families on the homefront in order to strengthen our military itself. I've worked faithfully with the Airman & Family Readiness Center to communicate available resources for our spouses & families within my areas of influence, as well as coordinated a holiday gift bag donation drive through PWOC for the spouses of deployed service members in the local area. I worked with local companies & base services to acquire donations. The gifts were hand-packed by PWOC women & personally delivered by Key Spouses, leadership teams or faithful friends to both male & female spouses & significant others of deployed members. My goal in creating these bags with PWOC was to share hope & encouragement with spouses during a potentially lonely season. I also work with my Key Spouse Team to ensure that spouses feel safe asking for help from our squadron, have access to services that they need, & receive several meals when walking through hard times.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for community building amongst military spouses & families. Whether their community is at the gym, the daycare, the church, or the park, I want every military spouse to know they are necessary. I can't force people to engage in our face-to-face world over a digital world, but my hope is that every military spouse knows how to connect with others who have similar interests in this life of service that we all live. This is a daunting task. But, I believe that it is possible to thrive as a military spouse, not just survive. Through connecting people & growing an involved, caring community, we can all thrive with our unique gifts & interests.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I spread my message through personal influence on our squadrons & at the base chapel. Much of my work is relationally-based, so I make every effort to communicate with people via social media posts, email, text messages or phone calls so that they know what's happening. Once I have clearly communicated invitations & event details, I make every effort to follow-up with individuals who I know need extra support. The personal touch of showing someone that you actually care to see them makes a huge difference. Since most people are accustomed to mass media information, personal invitations & notes are even more vital to building community successfully.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I hope to use this title to give a voice to military spouse needs & desires at Peterson, in the Space Force, & throughout the entire military. I want to encourage spouses themselves to connect with others intentionally, as well as work with base services to provide open doors for that to happen. My goal is to serve as a doorway to connect spouses with resources & people that help them learn to serve each other as they thrive in their roles.
Amy is a one of a kind. The minute you meet her, you feel like you are best friends. She has stated more than once that helping military spouses is her calling. She’s proven this through her actions. She serves our military community as a key spouse. Through this calling, she has cooked hundreds of dinners, sponsored numerous families new to the area, supported many commanders who’s deployed members had families who needed extra resources or even someone who would just listen in their time of need. Amy also leads in a key role in her church organization. PWOC (Protestant Women of the Church). She attends and runs retreats for those who need to feel a sense of community and support. Furthermore, she has done all of this in the midst of suffering tragic losses, Amy continues to serve our community through acts of empathy and compassion, Amy is a spark of light and hope and is a perfect example of selfless service.
- by Catherine Fernengel