Christina M Coerper
Branch: Air Force
Duty Station: Tyndall Air Force Base
Number of Deployments: 2
Number of PCS's: 2
Share your military spouse story:
Growing up I had an Uncle in the Army, whom was always stationed overseas/deployed, and the only time we saw him was when there was a death in the family. Early on in life, maybe Senior year of HS, I decided I was never going to date, let only marry someone in the military because what I knew was they are always gone. Fast forward 4 years and I met the love of my life, who you guessed it, was military; he was serving in the WI Air Nat'l Guard. After 2 yrs of dating, we got engaged and began to start planning our wedding for July of 2007. During our time together, I had learned more about the military and thought, this isn't so bad. 6 weeks after getting engaged, my husband was notified that his unit was being activated and deployed. Due to his upcoming deployment, we made the decision to do a Justice of the Peace Wedding about 6 weeks before he left, to ensure I was taken care of, if the unthinkable happened. 6 weeks after we were married, he was deployed to Afghanistan for 4 months; in those 6 weeks prior, we did all the pre-deployment briefings, but I was a mess and having a hard time grasping everything. What "I knew" about the military was coming true and I was not ready. Early 2007, he returned from his deployment and went back to Guard status. We were now able to start our life together. That fall he started applying for Active Guard positions and got a position at WADS at JBLM, WA. Again, what "I knew" was happening. January 2008, we headed for WA. This was my first time being far from my family for any length of time and it was a struggle, but we learned, early on, to lean on one another for support. We did not enjoy our time in WA, but made the most of it. We were stationed there for 9.5 years before my husband received a position at 1AF at Tyndall AFB, FL. Since moving to FL, I've been fortunate to be able to stay home and volunteer as a Key Spouse. I've been a Military Spouse for 16 yrs and if I had to do it again I wouldn't change a thing.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
After a few months of being a Key Spouse, I was asked to be the lead Key Spouse due to my involvement and dedication. I accepted, even though I didn't know if I really had what it takes. I've learned to work alongside 1AF service members and lead our other volunteers, to include relaying information from our spouses to my team as well as from the Commander and 1st Sgt to my team and vice versa.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I am the lead Key Spouse for 1AF. I became a Key Spouse in July 2020 during the beginning of COVID. It definitely left some challenges, but we were ultimately starting from scratch at the time. The other 2 Key Spouses at the time, had been volunteering for just a short time and it had been since the end of 2018 since we had an active Key Spouse. Since coming onboard, I've gotten our 1AF Family FB page up and running with important information/events that are going on base wide, as well as weather warnings. I also designed and execute a monthly newsletter that is emailed to the spouses, as well as the service members and it also shared on our FB page. When we are notified of a new family arriving, I reach out via email with a Welcome Packet and offer a 15 min Zoom Meet & Greet. This past year I was invited to speak at Commander's Call about what our Key Spouse Group is doing and our role. I also donate my time to design and make gifts for new babies born into the 1AF family.
Describe how you support your community:
I attend to Military Spouse Orientation Heart Link, when we have a spouse from 1AF in attendance. I also attend our Quarterly Key Spouse Trainings to meet other Key Spouses for the base and discuss what they are doing for their unit. Each year since 2017 when we arrived at Tyndall, I donate cookies for the Tyndall Spouses Club Cookie Caper for the Airman living in the dorms. This past year I donated 43 dozen cookies and years prior roughly 18-20 dozen. I do my best to attend all 1AF functions that are open for spouses/families and try to meet as many new spouses and service members as possible while in attendance. I believe meeting our spouses and service members in person makes a huge difference when it comes to someone needing to reach out for help.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for the spouses. I want the spouses to know they have someone that they can turn to and also help keep them informed with what is happening within the unit. During my husband's deployment, I turned to our Key Spouse with a question. I was a mess during all this pre-deployment briefings and didn't retain all the information. Being newly married and my husband being gone,I was now responsible for his bills as well. I wasn't sure how his pay worked, so I called the Key Spouse to find out the pay dates. She explained it to me and asked how I was doing. A couple days later, my husband called and he asked what I had said to the Key Spouse. I told him I asked about pay dates. The Key Spouse, whom was the Commander's wife that was deployed with my husband, had told him that he had not told me anything and the Commander pulled him in to his office. I spent the remainder of the deployment by myself; I felt I couldn't trust her. I don't want our spouses to ever feel that way.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have spread my message through emails, FB posts and when talking with the Commander and First Sergeant. Also when I talk with new spouses that sign-up for a 15min Zoom Meet & Greet.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
My hope is to meet other amazing Military Spouses and share ideas and gain resources that I can use and share with my team, as well as other spouses at 1AF.
Tina has worked tirelessly to support the 1st Air Force. She has singlehandedly run the Key Spouse program and supported every family member during her time as the Lead Key Spouse. She created and manages the family Facebook page as well as designed and delivered the monthly newsletter to keep her families informed. She personally contacts new spouses who arrive to give them a warm welcome and all the local information to make their transition as smooth as possible. Tina’s hard work and dedication is truly exemplary and she deserves recognition as an AFI military spouse of the year.
- by Carolyn Chase