Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Hurlburt Field
Number of Deployments: 0
Number of PCS's: 1
Share your military spouse story:
I shipped off to college with two goals. One, to get my degree. Two, get married AFTER I graduate. Here’s a hint - neither of those happened. Not one month into my first semester at Utah State University, I ran into a really attractive guy in a military uniform. He said hi to me and my heart nearly leapt out of my chest! We became friends throughout the semester, and it slowly turned into love as winter break approached. I remember him saying to me “Sarah, I want you to know that if we keep dating through the summer, I’m going to want to marry you” and I was like “woah, I love you, but marriage?” But he grew on me. I knew he was in something called “ROTC” and that he would have a service commitment once he graduated, but at that point, I was ready to take on all that military life could throw at me. How hard could it be? Once we got married, I had two choices. I could stay in Utah for a year without him while he moved to Florida and started training, or I could move with him and not get my degree. Ultimately, I chose to follow him. And I’m so glad I did, because one month before we found out our first PCS location, I found out I was pregnant! Throughout that pregnancy, we had to be apart for the last 4 months while he was on a TDY for training. Then we moved to Texas for more training. In the first year and a half of him serving Active Duty in the Air Force, we moved our little family 7 times. Two were full moves, four were TDY relocations, and one was a 5 month extended stay with family. At that point, I felt so alone. I didn’t expect the lifestyle to be so hectic and lonely at the same time. I decided to write a couple of blog posts talking about my feelings. And I got an overwhelmingly positive and supportive response. Who knew that so many other new, young spouses felt exactly the same way as me. I knew that I was in a unique position where I had a voice I was willing to use, a website I had up and running, and an Instagram platform to spread the word.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
When my husband began Active Duty, I was overwhelmed with everything. What was OPSEC? Am I allowed to talk to the spouses of Enlisted members? What is my role in this? Which is why I decided to start a blog. Which grew into an Instagram. Which grew into an Etsy shop. Which grew into an ebook. I am a leader in my community, and I feel so humbled and grateful that people trust me enough to ask questions that might seem “dumb”. There’s always support out there for “seasoned spouses”, but what about the BRAND NEW spouse or girlfriend? Who is telling them how to get their ID card, or that OPSEC is important? That is why I felt it was my divine role to step into this space and help brand new spouses, girlfriends, and anyone else who feels overwhelmed with this lifestyle to find confidence and support. I even wrote an ebook designed with the brand new spouse in mind, which covers everything from acronyms to ID info to OPSEC, and it has helped SO many already!
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Before I met my husband, I had very little involvement in the military community. Once I met my now-husband, I kept learning more and more about the military. I participated in the initial Key Spouse training so that I could increase my impact on other spouses and loved ones. But when I didn’t hear back from my Key spouses until MONTHS after moving to our current base, I knew that the program wasn’t what I was looking for. I longed for a more intimate setting where I could ask questions, receive support, and find friends. Now that I have a growing following on Instagram, I am messaged daily about military questions over every branch and commitment type. I have a blog that discusses many different military topics, from BAH to PCS’ing to explaining all the acronyms! I also do research daily to create military base prints that are unique to each base. You can find me and my family at nearly every on-base event. We genuinely love the community and the experiences made there!!
Describe how you support your community:
I have four main ways I serve my fellow military spouses, significant others, and loved ones. I genuinely want everyone to have easy-to-access resources and help when they need it. 1: I have a free, all access blog that covers many topics relevant to military life, including every branch and service type. I cover things related to Tricare, moving, mental health support, and more. I pride myself on intentionally including National Guard Milso’s, Reserve Milso’s, and girlfriends from every branch. 2: My instagram is a place where all are welcome. I cover difficult topics, like being lonely over the holidays, and I do my best to help others feel seen, heard, and supported. 3: I create unique base prints for the home. They capture memories and remind you of where the military has taken you. 4: I welcome and respect any and all questions. I firmly believe that there are no dumb questions. I accept everyone entering my space and genuinely listen to every concern about military life
What do you advocate for? Why?
NEW SPOUSES AND GIRLFRIENDS. I see firsthand, and WAY too often, “seasoned spouses” demeaning the importance of new spouses. Unfortunately, it’s often unintentional. They don’t realize its degrading. The new spouses and significant others have a very unique outlook that we NEED to be paying attention to. They can see flaws in our programs that we may be missing. They help us recognize the struggle and hardships we faced being brand new. They help us see the bigger picture, recognizing the good in the difficult. I am passionately driven to help each and every person that is new to this lifestyle. I want them to find confidence and support in their decisions. I want them to WANT to be part of the community, not be driven away from it. I want the new spouse and girlfriend to ACTUALLY feel like they belong. I never want them to think they are only welcome at the table after they done “x” amount of deployments of “y” amount of moves or “z” years of experience. They are our future.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
My Instagram account is less than a year old, but I’m moving past 1.3K friends! I have been lucky enough to have 3 Instagram reels go viral (75.5K views, 354K views, and 433K views) that all focus on life as a military wife. My posts are frequently shared on the Blue Star Families and Spouse-ly instagram pages. My account has also been featured on the blog The Submerged Life. I have been a guest on two podcasts, The Independent Dependent and Call To Marriage, where I’ve discussed how I’ve gotten to where I am, and why its so important to support new spouses. I frequently go live on Instagram with fellow military spouses to talk about things like mental health and relationships. Finally, I recently sat down with Jen from Partners in Promise to record a future podcast episode discussing the toxic word “dependa” and how we can change that negative view of spouses.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I want to bring more awareness to the value and importance of new spouses and significant others. This title is often only know in the seasoned spouse community, but I want to bring more awareness to the incredible mission you all are achieving as well. It is my genuine hope that by bringing our two worlds together, I can bring more awareness to seasoned spouses of the disconnect there is in help versus belittlement, (even if unintentional), and more awareness to new spouses of the immense community just waiting for them! I want to prove that a new spouse has JUST as much value, importance, and worth as a seasoned spouse. I LOVE the value and knowledge that comes from the more experienced community, but I think the messaging needs to be changed to a more supportive and welcoming message. ALL are welcome, new or seasoned, no deployments or 10 deployments, 20 moves or no moves. I hope to accomplish unity and understanding with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title!
Sarah is an inspiration for new military spouses as they enter this unknown lifestyle. Sarah publishes a blog where she shares important information that can otherwise be very overwhelming for the new military spouse, but she does so with such love and kindness towards her readership.
Sarah would be an exemplary Military Spouse of the Year, providing resources, outreach, and information to the communities she touches with her powerful and thoughtful words.
- by Brittany Lanza