Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Dover Air Force Base
Number of Deployments: 4
Number of PCS's: 4
Share your military spouse story:
Two PTSDs can make a right! My story begins the last year of my own enlistment. My (now) husband deployed to Balad for 6 months and a month before he returned, I went on a deployment to Ali Air Base Iraq. That was the first year of our relationship...deployments! We made it though, both with extra baggage (PTSD), but a strong couple can persevere through anything. I took the end of my enlistment as a sign to do bigger and better things in life. Becoming a Gold Star sister was not in my plans. I lovingly spent a year helping take care of my little brother at Walter Reed Bethesda. During this time I learned my purpose in life, giving back to my brothers and sisters in and out of uniform. One of the last things my brother told me was, "Don't waste your life doing something you dread, love everything you do." Here I am today. Married for 13 years with two beautiful children and steadily building the life we have always dreamed of. While in Texas I became a News Producer who was recognized for my passion of helping fellow veterans and spouses. The veteran community voted for me to be the youngest Commander to serve the All Veterans Council, along with winning 20 under 40. Our PCS to Dover was right at the beginning of COVID, so it has been rough. I now work for the Secretary of State as the Veteran Communications Officer. I am honored to produce events such as Wreaths Across America, Presidential & Legislative ceremonies, but most importantly I am still giving back to the military and spouse communities by bringing light to issues that are left in the dark. The proudest moment, thus far, is highlighting the caregiver organization Hidden Heroes. I made a professional goal of showcasing more spouse and veteran organizations in Delaware, and we are rocking it! You must dig deeper to find the brightest diamonds. Bringing those diamonds to Delaware is the goal. I sincerely do not need recognition, I genuinely just want to leave each duty station knowing I made a difference.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Leadership is when people truly value your input and look to you for guidance. I do believe I have achieved this seeing as my fellow spouses and veterans come to me in times of need for guidance and my professional opinion. Being selected for 20 under 40 also brought a humble awareness that the community I love and support fully embraced my leadership style.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
What have I not been involved in should be the question. You can see my past endeavors listed above. Currently I am responsible for bringing Delaware spouse, active, reserve/guard, and veteran communities together to support one another, advocate for needed changes, and execute plans to better the Delaware military communities.
Describe how you support your community:
Currently I am a key advocate for the military community of Dover. I have bolstered dead social media platforms to ensure that Delaware is aware of not only local news, but federal news involving our best interests. I encourage individuals to voice concerns and suggestions of improvement to provide to legislators so that we may make a difference for the future. When asked to speak at events I ensure spouses they are not just a spouse, they all have individual identities that need to be supported and celebrated.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for many military affiliated groups, but my passion right now is for spouses individuality. This pandemic has hindered almost everyone and as we progressively step out of a dark time the spouse community needs to support one another's ability to not live in the shadow of their spouse should they not want to. I also advocate for caregivers. Spouse or family member, these individuals give up everything and get no recognition. I am currently assisting to make Dover the first Hidden Heroes city in Delaware.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have a graduates degree in Public Relations... spreading messages is what I do best. When Hidden Heroes informed me of their intentions I immediately went to the Dover Mayor's office and advocated how this organization needed our support, he agreed and now we are the first Hidden Hero city in Delaware. Once set in stone I will push press releases to the local and national media outlets, promote on all 5 of the State Veterans social media platforms I manage, and then go to the next city to get their support. I do not mess around!
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I would love to help implement stronger programs that focus on a spouse's individuality, self worth, and mental health. Although we are still battling a time of quarantines, uncertainty, loneliness and fear, now more than ever it is crucial we care for ourselves.
Jennifer is a disabled veteran, active duty wife/mother and gold star sister. She will never give up on the military community that helped mold her into the fantastic woman she has become. She moved mountains for veterans and spouses in Texas. Although she PCSed to Delaware, those she cared for in Texas still call for her assistance, and she always goes out of her way to help. Her latest role is the Communications Officer for the State of Delaware veterans office. Not only does she care for veterans, but she advocates for spouses, especially caretaker spouses. Her determination to support spouses has resulted in the city of Dover signing a Resolution declaring it a Hidden Hero city, which means the city acknowledges and provides additional support to spouses. She has also coordinated the Wreaths Across America efforts for her state veteran cemeteries. Jennifer's love for fellow veterans and spouses is a beacon of light and hope for a community that is often left in the dark.
- by Ivy Romig