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

Elizabeth Keller

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: Dover Air Force Base

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 5

Share your military spouse story:
One day this young girl named Beth decided to leave the small , mighty state of Delaware to join the Air Force. I became a Personneliest and was sent to South Dakota. I never knew this would change my life. After 2 years of growing I met a young airman, my husband and it wasn’t our time yet. After a deployment , 7 months later he won my heart. 2 months later , we married after I turned down going home , to instead go to his home town. I told my friend I would marry him. I didn’t know days later he would propose. After in one month I separated, PCSed to Alaska, and got pregnant. Point being there is no time table in military spouse hood. Since then we have traveled to places I never thought we would live. We made an adventure at every base with our two kids. I gained 15 years of government jobs and learned to build the hard into the good and to know its OK too to falter. Our story together isn’t perfect. We have been through the tough times with me being depressed from spouse overload at times. We have been through the time of my husband going through alcohol rehab and since then is sober to this day for 4 years. We have bought a house and sold a house on the same day without seeing the other house. This life is a roller coaster ride every day but I couldn’t imagine not having done. We have made family with people we never knew existed before and now they are always in our hearts no matter where we go. We are now at 18 years in military life and almost 16 years together. I am the extrovert and he’s an introvert. I love to explore, while he would rather hang out at the house. In the end we even each other out when needed. He’s definitely my home with our crazy kids added in and the military definitely had us find each other again in life at the perfect time.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
In 2020, I got accepted into the CADP ( Civilian Associate Degree Program) with Department of Defense and have been attending classes to get an Associate Degree in Air Force Leadership and Management Studies. Using these tools I use the material and bring it into my workplace in the Air Force.and share it with our spouse forces. When you see a need , you figure out what you could do to help. When Afghanistan natives were sent to the states, I worked with members of the community to ensure they got supplies that they needed. We worked with the Red Cross and our team to deliver them to the local facility. For the last three years I have been a Key Spouse for our largest squadron on base. During COVID, I took on lead Key Spouse and the team worked to create resiliency events to help our spouses during this tough times. Part of my job is to take care of the Sponsorship Program for our squadron. I reworked the program and created pamphlets and brochures with any information needed.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
Dover AFB has my heart in every shape and form. Anything I can do to help, make it a better place I will do. Throughout the years I have served on the Spouse Club board , served on the Pacific Islander Month committee, and volunteered at the Airman's Attic. Over the pandemic I decided to deliver the USDA boxes from the school to military families who couldn’t grab them. All four Deployed Spouse Event my team and I went to thank the spouses. I put together 2 military retirements and ensure a perfect, day for them to include my First Sergeant. Last year was my first year grading military spouse essays for National Family Association , in the end graded 700 essays. One of my favorite things I started was becoming an Air Force Mentor for Military Spouse Advocacy. Not only do we help new spouses, we help seasonal spouses with any questions they have. They are given a “safe” place to turn and talk to people who understand and don’t judge.

Describe how you support your community:
There are a few organizations that are near and dear to my heart. The Special Olympics, Tim Tebow Prom, and Autism Delaware all combine with each other. Before COVID, our special needs families had places to go and be supported . During the high it was depressing to see all the virtual stuff, but I worked to make it as entertaining as possible. Fast forward to now and activities are going again. I love to go volunteer and cheer all the athletes on for all of the sports, give them their award and watch them smile, and now volunteer with my teenager and share the love. This year I volunteered in Dover’s First IRT mission offering no cost medical care. It was so rewarding to help wherever I was needed and to see so many happy people leave. Homelessness is rampant around the map. I discovered a local homeless shelter I could volunteer at overnight and expanded it to help deliver Easter baskets in the mobile bus and Thanksgiving meals with the local church.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I would love for every state to have an active Purple Star designation program. When I got to Delaware, I was surprised they didn’t have one. I contacted the local school district and joined a Purple Star Recognition Planning team to get one started. We went over the process and now applications can be submitted for the state. I feel that military children go through so much when they move to a new home and this program helps them to have the resources they need. My goal is have this in every state so no military family isn’t aware of the resources they need. Every parent shouldn’t feel alone , that they are not equipped to give their voice. There was also a local School District Realignment Committee that I joined as the military spouse parent. I was able to tell them on struggles of constantly moving. I am a strong advocate that every local school district should always have a military member and spouse to speak for our community.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I actively attend the school board meetings and voice any military issues to them. During COVID, I messaged every person possible to ensure they didn't forget our message. I am always willing to join any local military committees if they need a member who will speak their mind respectfully. Many military spouses won’t speak up, so having someone who can go speak for them is often easier. I am always ready to do that if needed. Children Education is too important to not spread the message.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I really just hope to be a good example of a military spouse around the map and to spread positivity and joy wherever I can. This life is a tough one and its not all sunshine and rainbows. However as a spouse, I want others to know they always have someone to turn to and that they are not alone. I want to work with this to help advocate for this and to open the doors to those spouses. No matter what level of time you have been in this military family there is always more to learn and teach. We can teach each other. I love that MSOY has opened up the eyes of so many with different ways to advocate for all kinds of things. When I first became a spouse we didn’t have these avenues to advocate.

Nominations

I don't know Beth very well at all. But I have watched in my current base of everything that she does and I can say that she epitomizes the traits that a military spouse is. I have always envied everything about how strong a military spouse is. She selflessly does so much for her our community of Dover. When a person asks a question, she helps them and goes above and beyond. I watched when everything was going on in the world with Afghanistan and she collected items to help them. She is always help local with schools and helping the base. When someone needs groceries she is there. Doing Key Spouse things for the base all the time.
- by Hannah V