Duty Station: Naval Air Station Whidbey Island
Number of Deployments: 2
Number of PCS's: 3
Share your military spouse story:
I am a Navy spouse of 5 years, a new mother, volunteer and serial hobbyist. I hold both a bachelor's and master's degree and worked in education for almost a decade prior to becoming a military spouse. All those years of being a classroom teacher taught me to wear many hats while focusing on my resiliency skills and strategies. My military spouse story began many years before I walked the aisle and said, "I do". My husband and I met at a pool party during the summer entering our sophomore year in college. Ten years later, I found myself booking a trip to Honolulu, HI and wondering if my old acquaintance was still stationed there. While in Honolulu, we reconnected as friends and shortly after the rest was history! We recently celebrated our 5-year marriage anniversary and celebrated our daughter's first birthday. I currently work full-time in a job that allows me to support military families during their permanent change of station. When I am not at work or spending time with my family, you can find me volunteering with the Officers’ Spouses’ Club of Whidbey Island or the Military Working Dog Support Association. My military spouse story is filled with many plot twists and turns, settings, and supporting characters. Through all its changes one thing remains the same and that is my love for my family and country.
Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Service is a value that I hold dearly. In college, once gave up my spring break to instead provide assistance to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and later joined a service-based sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. As a Navy spouse, I have volunteered twice to be the Ombudsman for my husband's command. In 2020, I received the Mrs. Sybil Stockdale Ombudsman of the Year award that is presented by the Chief of Naval Operations. I currently serve as the Communications Chair for the installation's officers' spouses' club. As the communications chair, I am responsible for all marketing materials, social media managing and communication with internal and external stakeholders. My family and I are also currently volunteering with International Student Exchange (ISE). As an ISE volunteer host family, we are currently hosting a foreign exchange student for the entire 2022-23 school year. High School exchange programs have been a part of U.S. public diplomacy efforts since 1949.
Describe your involvement in the military community:
I’d like to believe that I am pretty immersed in our military community. I regularly attend installation sponsored events by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC). I am also involved in Child and Youth Program’s (CYP) Parent Involvement Board. I serve as the Communications Chair on the Officers’ Spouses’ Club of Whidbey Island’s (OSCWI) Executive Board. Additionally, I am also the command ombudsman for my husband’s current command and am a COMPASS Mentor within the Naval Services FamilyLine. I am firm believer that arming our families with a robust resource and information toolbox will empower them to become independent problem solvers. OSCWI, COMPASS and being an Ombudsman provide the opportunity for me to share community and Navy resources to fellow spouses and families. I am especially interested in sharing resources that support military children transitions to new communities and schools.
Describe how you support your community:
We relocated to NAS Whidbey Island in the middle of the pandemic. There were not many social opportunities in our community at the time. As restrictions began to go away, many clubs and organizations found themselves wondering, "where did everyone go?". Returning to pre-pandemic norms have proved to be challenging. I support my community by participating in and attending installation and community events. Participating in and attending events provides momentum for community organizer's continued growth and attendance. Additionally, I serve on a fundraising committee that hosts an annual event aimed at raising funds for scholarships to military dependents and grants to local non-profit organizations. Lastly, I am currently in the process of becoming an ambassador for The Mom Walk Collective. As an ambassador, I will host bi-weekly walks that will be open to all Oak Harbor Moms in efforts to cultivate social gatherings for mothers to find their village and raise the next generation.
What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for high-quality, welcoming schools for K-12 students. Military connected students can move schools up to 9 different times during the span of their parent's career. It is important to advocate for local schools to have social-emotional and academic supports in place to support our highly mobile community. In addition, I advocate for installation and schools' partnership where service members regularly volunteer at schools to provide positive interactions with the military community.
How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have spread my message through my professional and personal channels. Professionally, I work with local schools and the federal government to create partnerships and support systems for incoming and outgoing military connected students. Personally, I share community events and happenings with families new to the area so that they can create connections with other youth. The pandemic robbed our youth of years of social developments and interactions. My goal is to remind families of the many opportunities for youth to positively spend their time and make lasting connections that turn into friendships.
What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year®
I hope to continue the legacy of previous AFI Military Spouses of the Year, to spread awareness and advocacy for military-connected students and their needs and expand and enhance the acknowledgement and celebration of Month of the Military Child each April. I wish to inspire other spouses to get involved in their community and highlight best practices that are already in place at U.S. military installations worldwide.
Patrigna has a big heart and incredibly creative ideas! She is always pushing our spouse support group forward by asking the right questions and connecting with impactful contacts. She is a true advocate for the military spouse community by finding and sharing valuable resources, and looking out for fellow milspouses. She manages the social media and marketing for our spouse support group and her posts encourage and enlighten our members on a regular basis! She regularly makes an important impact on our military community!
- by Britni Miltner