Dannielle Niewald

Branch: Navy

Duty Station: Naval Station Mayport

Number of Deployments: 3

Number of PCS's: 5

Share your military spouse story:
Nearly 17 years ago, I joined the unique community that we call military spouses at 19 years of age after taking a leap of faith and love to move thousands of miles to marry my Sailor. Still being a new spouse and shortly later a new mom, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. With my Sailor out to sea & very little knowledge of what to do or where to go, I started searching for resources. As a lifelong learner with a passion for knowledge, I began to equip myself with the knowledge and resources to not just live a successful Navy life, but also share my passion with others. Overcoming health issues while moving back and forth across the globe and reering a family, I also completed a Bachelor's in Aeronautics, and a Master's in Operations Management. In my free time, you can almost always find me in the kitchen. I absolutely love sharing food with others in times of joy, times of sadness, times of celebration, and even times of mourning. I volunteered thousands of hours dedicated to helping fellow military spouses and military families gain the knowledge and resources to live their very best Navy lives. As a Navy Mustang spouse, I am uniquely aware and have experienced the challenges faced by both Enlisted and Officer families, knowing that each have had a special part of my journey as a Navy Spouse. If I could sum up my role as a Navy spouse in terms of a game, I would reference the connecting dot game. You know, the one we all sat in church or school and silently played with a friend - connecting one dot to another and eventually forming a box. I don't have all of the answers for every Navy Spouse that calls asking about PCSing or Military Finance or Tricare, but I usually know where to find them. If I don't know the answer or where to find it, I know someone who can help connect the dots. I love acting as that link in connecting dots for a spouse that may transition from surviving Military life to forming that full square of THRIVING in their very best Military life.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
My greatest leadership accomplishments have come through service to Naval Services Family Line (NSFL) where I have served as a COMPASS Mentor since 2016 and a COMPASS Team Lead for the past 2 years. I assisted in formally consolidating COMPASS teams for Mayport, NAS Jax, and Kings Bay to establish the tri-base team of COMPASS Greater Jacksonville with service to thousands of spouses across three bases. I also served as the co-founding team lead for Naval Services Family Line's Navy Mustang Spouse Symposium in 2022 and worked with NSFL's strategic analysis and podcast teams as well. Additionally, I served as a Family Readiness Group (FRG) President in 2012 & since then have served in many different roles on various FRG boards and groups. I served as the Finacial Liason for Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) in Naples, Italy from 2017-2019 and as the Secretary for the Naval Officers' Spouse Association of Jacksonville for the 2022 board.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
One of the best ways to engage and have an impact in your military community is simply to be present and show up (even when Murphy moved in 2 weeks ago and seems to be unpacking for a month-long stay). I love volunteering and engaging with military spouses as I volunteer with our local and global COMPASS Teams. You are never too new or too seasoned to learn something new in a life that is ever-changing. I personally hand deliver materials to every COMPASS Participant in our tri-base area that spans nearly 80 miles from North to South and 40 miles from East to West. It is through these interactions that I am reminded of the challenges faced by so many families and the need for volunteers to keep the torches lit and passed from one generation to the next. I am also excited to be starting a new chapter in military life as I start a new career as a Deployment Readiness Coordinator with the Marine Corps serving a command of more than 1000 Navy and Marine Corps families.

Describe how you support your community:
As military spouses, we face a roller coaster of emotions on any random day. Sometimes we experience crazy adventures and exciting events. On other days we experience mourning and sorrow. And some days, we face both on the same day! It has become my mission to help every spouse I encounter to be prepared for whatever day you're facing today. Sunshine or rainy days - we are better together and better prepared with sun shades and galoshes... or Tricare, POAs, and color-coded labels for that 8th move in 12 years. I hope, that when this crazy Navy life ends, every spouse I've met knows they were loved and knows there were people available with resources and knowledge to help make their journey the very best it could be.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I have spent nearly my entire journey as a military spouse advocating for knowledge, education, and resources for military spouses and their families. I believe that if we want our service members to be squared away and perform their best jobs, we must equip their spouses and families with the resources to live this life successfully. I am a lifelong learner with a passion for knowledge and resources. As new resources become available, we have to meet spouses and families right where they are and deliver them in ways that will be effective and far-reaching. As modern military spouses evolve, so must the methods of reaching them. Some days this looks like hand-delivering a flyer about a new program being offered on base while other days it looks like hours of content building and presenting to groups via Zoom, and even still some days it just looks like being available when someone calls or texts with a question or providing support to a spouse going through a difficult time.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have had the distinct honor to share this platform and my passion for family preparedness through many roles including the simple role of being a spouse and friend. People often first know me for the information and resources that ooze from my veins. Through social media and my advocacy with Naval Services Family Line, I have been asked to speak on multiple occasions about family preparedness, resources, and benefits at various events within my local and global military community. I love teaching and mentoring both in person and in the virtual realm. I enjoy public speaking and engaging with fellow spouses to help provide resources to make this life successful so that when times get difficult and murphy comes knocking at your door, a spouse's first thought changes from "oh no!" to "I've got this, let's roll".

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I hope to be a positive role model for Navy Spouses and Military Spouses across the globe. As an AFI Military Spouse of the Year, I would strive to use this platform to further a message of family preparedness and empowerment through social media, public appearances, presentations, and engagements. I believe that when we gain knowledge, resources, and information ourselves, we become equipped to empower others by becoming distinct ripples in a sea of powerful waves. I may be but a small ripple in a big sea, but the impact of my wave can move and shake the earth for generations of Military Spouses to come.


As a Naval Services Familyline volunteer, She serves as our COMPASS Team Lead mentoring participants about the Navy mission, history, customs and traditions, rights and benefits, pay, deployments, moving, interpersonal communication, and investing in self and the community. ~she organized a team of Mustang spouses to develop a virtual symposium. Dannielle and her team presented the history and traditions of the Mustang community, had a live session with Community detailers, and shared tips and advice to ease the transition from enlisted to officer spouse. ~volunteered to work on Familyline’s Strategic Plan and was a team member which completed the comparative analysis with other military family nonprofits; enabling the completion of our Strategic Plan. ~served as a Navy Ombudsman and Family Readiness Group President. ~ planning a workshop for spouses who would like to enter the workforce.
- by Bronwyn R. Fillion