Duty Station: Naval Base Point Loma
Number of Deployments: 2
Number of PCS's: 1
Share your military spouse story:
My husband, Nick, and I dated on and off since my senior year of high school. And it was almost always long distance. And it was almost always the distance that caused us to be off again. So isn’t it ironic that we got back together, married, and started a family while he’s been in the Navy?! I think our dating history was just years of practice for the championship game - years of deployments, underways, schools, duty days, cancelled plans. Nick went to OCS in August 2014 when we were still dating, got stationed in San Diego after graduation, and deployed shortly after moving there - but not before proposing! And, although I wasn’t quite a military spouse yet, the wives of the USS Dewey wardroom couldn’t have been more welcoming. I’ve always felt intimidated being the new kid on the block and becoming part of the Dewey wardroom wives community was no exception. But that only lasted about 10 seconds once I met this amazing group of spouses! They all took me under their wing, showed me the ropes, and befriended me. And it was that friendship and camaraderie that I’ve taken with me and shared to each group of wardroom wives I’ve subsequently been a part of. This life can be so amazing, but it is also amazingly hard. And only those who are in it truly understand it, which can feel incredibly lonely. That first group of wardroom wives taught me the importance of being a FRIEND, a sister in this life. We need each other and quickly. My job as a Navy wife is not only to support my husband, but to also support to my fellow spouses. And that is what I’ve done and will continue to do - whether we’re a part of the same wardroom or I met you on Instagram. Being a military spouse is a hard job and we could always use a friend.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
For the last year, I have been fortunate to be a part of the PenFed Foundation’s Military Women Startup Accelerator program. Through this entrepreneurship program, I met fellow spouses and veterans from across the country. I connected with the military community on a larger scale than just my husband’s ship or our duty station. I actively participated in sharing my experiences and knowledge with this community to help my fellow entrepreneurs reach their goals. I have continued to help some of these women even outside of the program, which has enhanced my scope of influence in the military community.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I am a member of the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE), PenFed’s Military Women Startup Accelerator, and Military Influencers Conference Pitch Competition Finalist. Last January, I was a featured guest writer for the military spouse blog, Strength 4 Spouses. In July, I partnered with Military Mom Collective in their event for new and expecting military moms, Bloom. I recently signed up to become a new vendor on Spouse-ly, a platform dedicated to showcasing goods and services of military spouses. Additionally, I will be participating in the GY6 Show in February, which highlights military dependent owned brands for New York Fashion Week!
Describe how you support your community:
If you’re looking for a cheerleader, you’ve found her! I love hyping up military moms and supporting military spouse-owned businesses. I spread positivity and encouragement to moms on my Instagram account, while keeping it real so they know they’re not alone. Social media has allowed me to meet and connect with military spouses of all branches! I also offer a military discount to all active duty, veterans, and dependents for my breastfeeding apparel brand, Ailana J.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I am passionate about helping moms reach their breastfeeding goals and finding ways to make mom life easier. Being a mom is hard; being a mom in a military family is harder. Moms in the military community need more support, including better maternity, paternity, and family leave options. This would improve the overall health (both physical and mental) of the whole family, making military families even stronger.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
In 2020, I started a breastfeeding apparel brand, Ailana J., to make breastfeeding easier and support moms in reaching their goals. My brand’s website features a blog, in which I create content about all things breastfeeding and mom life, including maternity leave, with the goal of providing insight that will help make life easier for moms. I also use my brand’s Instagram account to connect with my community regarding these topics on a daily basis.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
Being the AFI Military SOY would allow me to help more military moms reach their breastfeeding and mom life goals! It would also give me the opportunity help more moms who are struggling - most of us struggle with juggling mom life and military life alone. My goal is to build a community where all military moms have a friend! Additionally, I would have a better platform to advocate for enhanced maternity, paternity, and family leave benefits, all of which would help promote breastfeeding and happier, healthier military families overall!
Jeannine is such a bright light in the military spouse community. She empowers moms through her Instagram account with her authenticity about being a mom and military spouse. She has even created an entire line of stylish clothing, Ailana J, for breastfeeding and breastpumping moms. She is a true inspiration!
- by Wendi Iacobello