Amy Hartzell

Branch: Army

Duty Station: Fort Drum

Number of Deployments: 2

Number of PCS's: 6

Share your military spouse story:
In 2010, I walked onto a softball field and hit a line drive down the third baseline. That hit caught the attention of a teammate that I now am married to. Little did I know that our story would start that day. My husband was stationed in Jamestown NY as a recruiter (his hometown). Two months later we were engaged, and on May 21, 2011 we were married. Shortly after we moved to Fort Bragg North Carolina, where I learned quickly what it was like to be an Army Spouse. Several Holidays, Anniversaries, Birthdays and more were spent apart. Since then we have been stationed at Vilseck Germany, Fort Sill Oklahoma, Midlothian Virginia, Fort Bliss Texas and currently Fort Drum, NY. We both were born and raised in WNY and our paths crossed at the perfect time. I remember my friends saying I was crazy to marry a military man, that my life would be hectic and hard and of course; " You're going to miss home!" While all of that is true, this life has given me adventure, appreciation and the upmost respect for the military families. I have learned hard lessons and gained so much knowledge and friendships that will last forever. We have two beautiful children; a girl (8) and a boy (4). Our journey continues as I soon get to watch my husband put on the rank of SGM. I am honored to be married to a military man that serves his country with pride, a phenomenal husband and father, and a man who walks beside me. He is my biggest supporter, he supports my ideas, plans, goals and dreams not matter how wild or far fetched they may be. He is my own personal hero and I am honored to be given the opportunities his career has provided me. I would also like to add the phenomenal women I have met over the past 13 years who have mentored me, taught me, listened to me. For them I am thankful and able to carry on their advice, guidance and legacy.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
In 2011, I became a FRG (now SFRG) leader. My husband and I have had the opportunity to serve military families and soldiers over the years. I have been awarded The Order of Molly Pitcher, The Margaret C. Corbin, Public Service Commendation Medal and Certificates of Appreciation.These awards were humbling and an absolute honor to receive. I am thankful for the opportunities to meet soldiers and their families, as each one has left an imprint on me. When we moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, I really stepped up and learned the most. My husband was the 1Sgt of A-1/19 FA. I became the SFRG leader and was able to get all of our families involved. We had holiday parties, coffees, dinner at the Battery, etc. I was asked to join a team of spouses to conduct a 5-day course for military spouses whose service member was in command. "Growing Spouses Army Strong." What an honor it was to teach. I learned that several spouses did not know how many resources the military has for families and soldiers.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have said this before and will most likely say is several more times. I love the military community. Once you get your feet wet, you're in for life. What I mean by that is the opportunities to meet people, listen to people, learn about people is my favorite. Any opportunity that I was interested in, I gave it my all. Several spouses I have met over the years have either had no idea they could get involved in volunteering opportunities or had bad experiences when they did get involved. My goal, everywhere we go, is to share my experiences and remind others that they should always been themselves, never feel like they have to do something, and not all SFRGs are bad. I also share the resources available when given the opportunity. Being yourself and a representation of your service member can go a long ways.

Describe how you support your community:
I support my community by being involved, available, and understanding. Every duty station has different things to offer, but every place we PCS to, we make home. Sometimes the best way to support a community is to lend a hand to a neighbor, a friend, or soldier. It's too easy to be kind. Anyone who has lived this lifestyle knows, it takes a village, a "hey I just met you, but can I put you down as an emergency contact?" There are trying times and good times; enjoy the little victories and celebrate it all. After all our uniformed men and women are the 1% and we, the families represent them. Everyday, I make the choice to do my best as a parent, wife, friend, neighbor. Give a compliment, make a meal for someone, sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference. Be present.

What do you advocate for? Why?
Honestly, this question was a tough one for me. I advocate for all things I believe in, that are right, but most of all, I advocate for our military families. I thoroughly enjoy sharing resources, experiences, things to do in the area, and bringing people together. I am a people person. I love getting to know people, learn different cultures, listening to others tell their story. I am an advocate of families, soldiers, military kids and making this lifestyle enjoyable. When I met my husband he was a Staff Sergeant. Sadly, I wasn't included in a lot of events or looked down upon by other spouses because of his rank or me being a new spouse. No one reached out, until I got involved. I'll never forget how I felt and promised myself that if I was ever in a position to advise spouse, I would never make them feel like I once did. Once I stepped up, I opened several doors and shined positivity on resources and made rank no value to me. I have stood true to that. Be a light and be helpful.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
As talked about previously, any opportunity I am given to talk about the military, I do. I have spoke in front of leaders, command teams, AER boards, spouse courses, and neighbors. I continue to learn from others and take pride in the ability to listen and find a solution if needed. My goal is to one day be able to put together a course for all rank spouses to learn resources and basics of the military lifestyle. I know ACS offers these type of courses, some duty stations as well. My goal is for it to not be rank based and open to all ranks. I wish I had the opportunity to learn more as a new spouse. It is intimidating for some to not be included. I believe it is vital to be involved, supported and understood as a SGM spouse, just as much as it could be for a Private's spouse. For myself, "Growing Spouses Army Strong" and "Spouse Leadership Development Course" were so informative, rewarding and empowering. These courses offered me confidence and knowledge to lead.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
My hope is to have a platform to create or help modify current courses for our military spouses. The goal is have more opportunities for newly married spouses to have the ability to attend courses that teach the basics of this lifestyle, from BAH, DEERS, Rank classification, a day in the life of a command team, what resources are offered to soldiers and their families on each instillation, to benefits of Tricare, casualty assistance, Red Cross and all of the above. My ultimate goal is spread the word, that you are no less and no greater than the man or woman beside you, you are worth it and together as a team , we will navigate this military spouse life together.


No matter where Amy’s family is stationed, she digs into her community and gives her time and talents to effect change. Amy is always willing to go above and beyond what is asked of her to accomplish the mission. Her dedication to the Military community makes her the perfect candidate to receive a nomination for AFI’s Military Spouse of the Year award. I’m proud to have volunteered alongside Amy and I believe she would be an incredible addition to the MSOY family.
- by Melissa Johnson