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

Christina Heninger

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: Grand Forks Air Force Base

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 1

Share your military spouse story:
My name is Christina Heninger I am married to the love of my life and have 2 beautiful children! Although times have not always been so easy! Almost 20 years ago I was in a vehicle accident and became a paraplegic. All due to someone drinking and driving. But with hard work and determination I got into physical therapy rehab, had to learn how to live life over again! After rehab I made a promise to myself, I had to try and save other from having this happen! So I started speaking to local schools and organizations on the dangers of drinking and driving! I knew that as much as I hated what happens to me, I had to try and help it from happening to others! I met my amazing husband a few years later, never thought I would find someone to love me with my disability! But here we are 15 years later married and have a beautiful 11 year old daughter Maycee and a beautiful 3 year old son Austin. We were stationed in California for 13 years at Beale AFB. Then the military sent us on our next adventure to Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota. Not going to lie, the snow has not been an easy task… as wheelchairs and snow are not best friends. Thanks to our base making some changes life has been a bit easier. My children and dogs love the snow here, it’s hard to get them to come inside! My family is my biggest and greatest accomplishment, I would not be the person I am today had I not met my husband. I would not be the person I am today had I not had the amazing support of my family and friends! Although life is tough at times, I still have my life!! So many don’t get the chance to live their life, and I am beyond humbled and blessed to have the life I have!!

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I honestly don’t think I would call it leadership, I think I would call it helping make our base a better place! I am working without base here to make it more ADA accessible. Making sure curbs, doorways, homes, etc are accessible. Recently we had to have some work done in our home on our dime. But staying quiet wasn’t an option! What was a friendly conversation about our issues turned into some huge! With our experiences and complications we were able to have base house if change there Bi-Laws for over 20 bases. Now no one will have to pay out of pocket to make their home more accessible!! I want to make sure that when we leave our base, in better shape and that anyone with a disability feels safe and welcome!

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have joined the spouses group here on base, which if you ever are stationed in Grand Forks… definitely join. It is such an amazing group, I am the treasurer this year. To know that everything we do is to help our own and our community is something that makes my heart whole! Playing bunco monthly and getting to talk to our fellow spouses. I am also a Key spouse and help our deployed spouses! Sometimes just a phone call to help them out means more than we know! Hearing about their experiences and what and where they have been. I also volunteer at our spouses club thrift shop. I love going in and talking with everyone, hearing from some of the veterans that come in. Being a part of the military community is a very humbling part of my life!

Describe how you support your community:
The spouses group I am in, we raise money through memberships and our thrift shop. The money we raise, goes back to our local community and to our brother and sister in the military. The scholarships are to help them out, so that they can continue to pursue their dreams! I love that out little group can make these accomplishments possible for for so many!

What do you advocate for? Why?
Disability awareness! Being a paraplegic I have had so many issues with building, houses, shops etc not being accessible to me. I can only imagine how many others this has impacted. So I feel it is my turn to help those that do not have a voice, or may be a bit afraid to use it! I may use a wheelchair to get around, but my wheelchair does not define who I am!!

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I try to speak at different organizations about what might be done to help out! I also think my speaking at schools and different places of work help get my message out there. My goal is to work with companies to make sure that all business, homes, bases etc are handicap accessible!

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
If I am blessed to get gain this title, I am going to use my platform to get ADA awareness front and center. There are so many different disabilities, some you cannot even see. And I want to be able to make military living as warming and welcoming to all, no matter what ailments they may or may not have. No one should have to move to a new town or base, and wonder if they are going to have remodel, or bring a ramp with them to get through a doorway. I will do my very best to make sure every single person is treated like any other. It doesn’t matter of there is a difference in age, religion, race, disability, rank, the list could go on and on. We are all human being, and we need to start advocating for each other. We need to pick each other up, not hold each other down! I promise to do whatever I can to make that happen!! Thank You so much for this amazing opportunity, I am so completely great full and blessed to even be out in this category!!

Nominations

Christina has been working hard to be a part of the military family. She is one of only a few that is a Key Spouse that works for our Commander. She is also a board member "treasurer" for the base spouse club, also volunteers a lot at the local on base thrift store which raises money for scholarships. She is also a very big advocate for ADA issues, she was instrumental in getting the privatized housing to rewrite there ADA policies which has affected 20 bases, with $50K set aside to assist members who need these modifications. This has also brought to light around our base here in Grand Forks the need to look around and find ADA issues. We have been told that this is being looked at AF wide more with other base commanders finding out about what we have started here.
- by scott heninger

Being an advocate for ADA policies and changes being made Air Force wide. ADA policies have also been reevaluated and rewritten for privatized housing for at least 20 bases. Volunteering as a Key Spouse for the commander, and actively involved with the spouses club/group on base, holds the finance position for the club.
- by scott heninger