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

KateLynn Heavilon

Branch: Army

Duty Station: Goodfellow Air Force Base

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 3

Share your military spouse story:
As a new military spouse at our first duty station I felt lost and alone, as many spouses do. My spouse and I decided to purchase our first home and live off base. This meant I did not have the built-in friends who understood what I was going through when my husband deployed for 9 months. I also worked full time and was pursuing my masters degree congruently to fill my time and the void I was feeling. Once my husband returned from deployment, he quickly left for training in order to change jobs. This was due to an injury that prevented him from remaining in his current career. However, during his schooling I had to list and sell our home, find and secure new housing at our new base and was also job hunting. It was overwhelming. Things finally seemed to settle down with arrangements coming together for the move when the Army retracted our orders for the duty station I had just secured a home and job at. They then left us in limbo for 3 months having no idea where we were moving even though the report date did not change. During these 3 months I found my tribe of military spouses who understood what I was going through. They graciously provided me with resources, helped me find a place to live temporarily as I had already sold our home and inspired me to be more active in the military community. These spouses left a fire in my soul to grow, learn and do better.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
At our second duty station I was afforded the opportunity to become the FRG Leader for my husband's company. The FRG program had become non-existent following the unit's recent deployment so we had to rebuild from the ground up. With the help of my outstanding Liaison and husband, we were able to establish a successful and prosperous program that not only included the families but also the single soldiers within the unit. Currently here at Goodfellow, I am currently filling the SFRG leader role during transition and plan to help the program grow and flourish. But I also have larger base wide goals that will help not only the Army, but also the Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Marines, and Coast Guard members stationed with us at our base, as many resources are branch specific and not widely available due to the size of our installation.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I am an active member of the VFW Auxiliary and the Military Order of the Cootie Auxiliary(MOCA). Both of these organizations focus on ways that we can support and create positive impact on military families. Our MOCA pup tent has created countless cards for the veterans in care who are unable to have visitors and helped to fulfill the hospital's wish list for patients by purchasing over 50 cell phone charging cords and blocks. The VFW Auxiliary Post I belong to has been able to make great strides towards helping active duty families. The VFW Auxiliary Post created snack and morale bags for the soldiers in quarantine due to COVID, catered Thanksgiving, and Christmas meals for over 25 Soldiers in quarantine, partnered with our sister organizations to build and deliver 7 thanksgiving meal baskets to active duty families, and provided more than 50 active duty children with presents at Christmas.

Describe how you support your community:
I support my community by learning as much as I can about all facets of military life, even if they do not pertain to me at the time. In the process of gaining this knowledge I build a resource bank and make personal connections within the military community. I am then able to help educate others and share the resources I have found to support more families. The feedback that I receive when I share information or resources affirms the motivations behind the process for me, as it is so gratifying to see the impact that you have the ability to help create positive change for a family. I am also an active volunteer within the local community. I can regularly be found volunteering with our local animal shelter, at street fair events, dog adoption events, flag or wreath placements at cemeteries in town.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for a stronger military community with deep connections, because we are our brother and sister’s keeper. I believe that the community can grow stronger through volunteering and a shared sense of purpose. There are so many volunteer opportunities on military installations and with military organizations that allow for families to participate in missions for the greater good of the military community. As a collective team we can make great strides towards a better future for all military families while allowing individuals to grow and cultivate their experience and knowledge bases.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I share volunteer opportunities through the use of social media platforms, by word of mouth and connections within our unit which help to spread the word. It is very important to use all resources available to get information disseminated as each person may find the opportunity a different way and there are never too many helping hands.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
If I am lucky enough to earn the title of AFI Military Spouse of the Year, I hope that I will gain the mentorship and resources necessary to help create a fully functional food pantry and lending closet here at our base, furthering my platform of volunteerism with purpose. The goal is to provide families of all branches of service an accessible way to help support their family, which may be with food, or household necessities during a transition or PCS. My vision is for a space that families can come to during those vulnerable times to receive the support and resources that they need. Although we do have a food pantry currently, it is only accessible by command referral which may deter families who are in need from asking for help.

Nominations

KateLynn is a dedicated military spouse of over 5 years who has been active with my career & units. She has played a major roll in helping restart and revive FRG programs at several units where she strives to provide events, information, & resources to the families. She continues to expand her goals and missions to reach further and have a greater impact not only on our current unit but the Army & military community as a whole.
- by Justin Heavilon