Duty Station: Rock Island Arsenal
Number of Deployments: 1
Number of PCS's: 5
Share your military spouse story:
Michael and I met while serving on Active Duty in the Air Force at Fort Gordon. He was there for Signal CCC, and I worked at NSA Fort Gordon. For being an Intelligence Analyst, I had no clue he liked me! However, we truly connected at our apartment complex's dog park, where we met up with a group of other dog parents every day after work. Michael and I both had just recently adopted pups, him, a senior Jack Russell Terror/Terrier, who would go on to become the best man at our wedding, and me, a collie/boxer mix who had been adopted and returned three times already. Michael hosted a Memorial Day cookout for our “Dog Park Crew,” which consisted of a multi-round, intense, almost come-to-blows Mario Kart tournament (and, of course, lots of food). That night, Michael and I discovered that we might like each other *just* a bit, and he might have found his Mario Kart match! We started dating soon after; however, upon completing Signal CCC, he left for Fort Bliss, and I stayed at Fort Gordon for the next four years. Those years were filled with many plane trips back and forth, two knee and one ankle surgery for me, Company Command and OC/T time at JRTC/Fort Polk for him, and finally, a PCS back to Fort Gordon right after I finished my time in the USAF. We married in Savannah, Georgia, in 2020, the location of our first "weekend getaway" as a couple back in 2014. Following this, we PCS'd to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he completed CGSC and then deployed overseas to Saudi Arabia. During this time, I managed the creation of a non-profit for veterans, a full-time job, and roles in various community service organizations on and off the post. To this day, I consider volunteer work, especially for military spouses and veterans, to be one of my passions in life, especially given that I have experienced both sides as a service member and a spouse.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I serve in many capacities in/around Rock Island Arsenal as a spouse. I am the deputy Mayor (and only civilian member/mayor) for my on-post neighborhood (2 total), as we get ready to transition from government to privatized housing. Additionally, I serve as a board member and Volunteer Coordinator/Manager with the Rock Island Arsenal Historical Society, a 501(c)3 private organization, the mission of which is to support the second oldest Army Museum, which will be reopening this summer. I am serving as a representative of not only the on-post community but Military Spouses, Veterans, and those who have a deep interest in the rich history of the Army & Military. In addition to this crucial role, I also manage the Ways & Means Committee for the Rock Island Arsenal Welcome Club, which decides what items and goods our private organization offers for sale to raise money for our scholarship fund, benefitting Spouses & Dependents.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
Here at Rock Island Arsenal, we are a small and tight knit military community. The post itself is made up of more civilian/contractor personnel than military, which makes us the minority to begin with. Within my RIA community, not only am I the deputy neighborhood Mayor (and only civilian Mayor across the two neighborhoods), but I am also the Ways & Means Chair for our Rock Island Arsenal Welcome Club, the Volunteer Coordinator/Board Member for the Rock Island Arsenal Historical Society (something I carried over from Fort Leavenworth, where I was actively involved with the Friends of the Frontier Army Museum), as well as the Volunteer Coordinator for the First Army SFRG, which has been in a re-organization phase as the HHD attempts to better connect with service members and their families. In the past, I have actively played a role in Spouse Groups/Welcome Clubs, Historical Societies and other non-profit groups.
Describe how you support your community:
Rock Island Arsenal is a small community; I didn't even know it existed until my husband got official orders here, and I had to look it up to see where it existed. It is not your typical "military community" surrounding a post; the Quad Cities is a vibrant & hearty midwestern area that knows the Arsenal exists because of its lengthy history. However, the military of the Arsenal are few and far between, so my community support is heavily reliant on making the public more aware of the military that lives on/around the Arsenal. I do this primarily as the sole volunteer for Blue Star Families in the area, an active participant and Chair of the Advocacy Committee for the local Junior League, and the Social Media Manager for the Quad Cities Veteran Network. All these activities allow me to serve as an ambassador for the Arsenal and the military community.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I am a fearless advocate for spouses who are veterans themselves. Too often, they are overlooked simply because they are not the member in uniform, and too many times, they are faced with a unique set of challenges that occur in their daily life. Many of these spouses are extra resilient because of what they have done in the military. However, some just get looked over because they stand by their significant other in uniform and civilian clothes. Many of these spouses are women veterans concurrently dealing with PTSD, MST, service-connected disabilities, and more but are the ones "keeping the home fires burning". At the same time, the service member is deployed, TDY, or even working, and the spouse is managing everything else, and at the end of the day, we don't always prioritize ourselves first.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
With regard to my message, it certainly is about incorporating it into my daily life and being proud of my service and what I have done to contribute. Involving it in the volunteer work I do on and off the post, as well as with those I meet, not only makes for deeper and more meaningful relationships but has helped me form so many new connections and created new opportunities. Within my Junior League chapter, I just recently stepped up to fill the role of the Advocacy Chairperson, which had been previously vacant, so that I may use my past (and present) experiences to become a more vigorous advocate and leader, and learn from those holding public and private office in our local city and state governments.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
So many spouses are great at standing by and being the "runner-up" to their Active Duty spouse, so with the AFI MSOY title, I hope to highlight the achievements of our spouses who have also served their country but now serve in a different capacity whether that is through a non-profit or just expanding the network of resources that are available and increasing awareness of such.
As an active duty Army officer, I watched as we PCS’d last year, my wife seamlessly integrate herself into volunteer opportunities at Rock Island. In addition to working to stand up a nonprofit focused on assisting veterans in receiving dental care, she is a member of the museum history board, working to help establish a museum at Fort McCoy, an active member of the spouses welcome club and working with Quad Cities Veterans Network to help where she can. She also in December, accepted the opportunity to volunteer as a program evaluation analyst with Sigma Forces, helping in their focus allowing for veterans and active duty members to get additional certifications to assist in their transition. While at Leavenworth, she worked on the museum board and pushed to have their scholarship opportunities extended to spouses while expanding their coverage to include certification programs. She is passionate about veterans causes and is always working to expand on opportunities to serve.
- by Michael Siegner
Amanda is an amazing wife and individual, with integrity, devotion, and dedication to her husband. She displays similar qualities in her friendships as well. She is an upstanding person with a good and giving heart.
- by Amy Aminlari
Mrs. Siegner is a exemplary role model of a military spouse. She advocates for veterans and women in the military. While supporting her active duty husband, she graduated from University of Kansas from the first class in business analytics and maintained excellent grades. She currently is a USAF veteran (2011-17) and worked in the Student Veterans Office at UK. Amanda shows and rides her own horse on the side. She is an active member of the Junior League, and is the only Blue Star Families Volunteer in her location. Lastly, Amanda is a caring and selfless person who looks for ways to assist others around her. I proudly nominate Amanda as MSOY.
- by Crystal Heckman