Nominations are closed. Come back February 3 to meet the candidates!

Cassandra DeNio

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: Joint Base San Antonio

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 4

Share your military spouse story:
Come September this year I'll be married to my husband for 10 years! He has been active duty for almost 11. We've had a fun and interesting ride as we've pcs'd a few times from Cannon, NM to Now JBSA. As a military spouse I've learned so much over the years. I never being affiliated with the military thought I would've been reached out to and helped to adjust. Our first two duty stations that never happened. Noone greeted me, noone helped me figure out this life (aside from my husband). Upon moving to Langley I got a taste of what I was looking for. I moved there alone with our two daughters without my husband. The key spouse program helped me get settled and gave me someone to lean on in need. I knew that was something I wanted to do. I wanted to make sure no spouse I was associated with felt left out or like they weren't important. So I joined the key spouse program at Langley 6 years ago! I wanted to be the lead of the inbound/outbound program. I took on that program and made it my goal that anyone coming to our squadron never felt unimportant or left out or not welcome. I soon took on the mentor position after a few years when my husband PCA'd to a different squadron and they needed someone to take on the program and get it running. I quickly found a passion in taking care of our deployed families. So I took on that program and created deployment baskets, got teddy bear kits for the kiddos and did monthly check in for our deployed families. Ultimately I wanted everyone to feel welcome and I feel like I accomplished that during my time there.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Ice been a key spouse mentor for about 4 years now including my current position in my husbands squadron key spouse program. I'm a Coach for a military spouse kickball league. I've also been a PTA vice president and President for a school that was solely military kids. One of the most rewarding programs I've been apart of!

Describe your involvement in the military community:
Almost everything I do is revolved around the military community. Kickball, my job at First Command, the Key Spouse program, events hosted in the local community and so much more. Even after my husband retires I want to continue to support our military families!

Describe how you support your community:
Supporting my community is always fun. I love to offer a helping hand wherever I am. Currently I'm a key spouse mentor for my husband's squadron. Being able to get a program up and running, guide and support other spouses is my passion since the beginning when I didn't have any help. Im a coach for the kickball team I'm on. It's a national military spouse kickball association! I started playing my first ever season last year and I have fallen in love with the sport and the people I spend Sundays with! Bringing military spouses together, having fun and creating a family outside of the military has been one of a kind!

What do you advocate for? Why?
My passion is and continues to be Diabetes Awareness. My oldest daughter Autumn is Type 1 diabetic and I strive to educate any and all who will listen! If by me advocating it helps save someone's life then I'm doing something right! I've gotten lots of comments on how I've educated friends of ours and how it's helped them understand. That makes me forever grateful to see the change in the stigma that is Diabetes.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I go to walks, I post all the time. I tell everyone and anyone who will listen. If people have questions I answer or provide them with the articles to read. I've spoken to many who have asked questions. I have also set up trainings in my daughter's schools to help them learn and better understand.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I hope to bring awareness, love, passion to those around me. I hope to let everyone who sees this that you are special no matter what help you do on whatever level that you are making a difference. You are the change even if it is small and unnoticed.

Nominations

CJ is a vital member of the First Command team, helping her advisor to manage & develop plans to empower military families. Additionally, she leads the Key Spouse Mentor program, is the PTA President, Advocates for Diabetes Awareness, & serves as the Assistant Coach for a Military Spouse Kickball League. Once an AF spouse who suffered through her acclimation, she took the initiative deciding to break the cycle of loneliness & led the Key Spouse Program. She knew there must have been others like her & she inspired them to feel a welcomed part of "Her" community. She started a 100% contact program, ensuring no one was left behind. She also developed a Deployed Family's care program to engage families. Her oldest daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 16 months. Diabetes is complicated & exacerbated by the military's dynamic culture. CJ advocates making sure her daughter gets the best care & provides lectures to empower others with information & lifesaving resources.
- by Karen Lopez Rolirad