Ashley Ignatz

Branch: Marine Corps

Duty Station: Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 5

Share your military spouse story:
I was living in Encinitas, CA in 2014 when a friend decided to create an online dating profile for me. I begrudgingly allowed it, and after a few truly terrible dates, I decided online dating just wasn’t for me. A few months later, I found myself on a train looking to pass some time. I opted to give the world of online romance one last chance. In my inbox, I found a message from a guy who seemed potentially normal and interesting to talk to. It turns out he had messaged me a month earlier too and decided to reach out again. I learned that he lived nearby but just so happened to be deployed and would be overseas for three more months. Our connection was so genuine from the moment we first talked on the phone, I knew he was worth the wait. Ten months later we were married and two weeks after that, moved to Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, which we jokingly refer to as our honeymoon. If you’ve not heard of Barstow, CA before, imagine what it feels like to stand in a hot, dry sauna with 50 mile per hour wind blowing sand in your face. Welcome to Barstow! While stationed there, we had our daughter, now seven, and I worked as a Marine Corps Family Team Building Trainer on base. Three months before we were set to PCS, my husband was diagnosed with stage III melanoma. His surgery was successful, and he underwent monthly immunotherapy treatments for over a year, which prevented us from growing our family. After our second PCS, I worked remotely for a startup business that provides medical evidence for veteran disability claims. In five and a half years, I had the opportunity to help thousands of veterans get the benefits they deserve. In the last year, my husband was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma. I want to support other spouses in similar situations.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
When I took the Family Readiness Training program over at MCLB Barstow, engagement was low as was event participation. I revamped the training agendas to be inclusive of stay-at-home moms who wanted to attend with their children. I created a new training based on the Five Love Languages for Children, which was adopted by the trainers at Camp Pendleton and another base in San Diego. I started as a Customer Service Rep at the veteran disability company, grew into a department manager, and eventually stepped into the Director of Operations role. I know how powerful, smart, and resilient military spouses are, and focused any of my recruiting on employing and mentoring qualified military spouses to help our company grow. I also received a leadership award at the company’s first annual all-employee conference to recognize my leadership contributions.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I have been actively involved supporting and advocating for the military and veteran community since starting my first job on base in 2016. I am passionate about veteran and military spouse employment, and empowering the military and veteran community to pursue the disability benefits they deserve. I’ve hired and mentored many veterans and military spouses during the last six years and am excited to get more involved in mentorship through Veterati.

Describe how you support your community:
I drastically increased participation in trainings and the volunteer program at MCLB Barstow. I successfully advocated to take a building off the base’s demolition list and revamped it into a warm, inviting space for trainings and gatherings. I contributed to seeking and employing a fantastic team of military spouses and veterans. I am also working to start a nonprofit to support homeless, disabled veterans.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I am passionate about military spouse employment, educating veterans about the benefits they deserve, and encouraging women to advocate for themselves in the workplace. These are all causes that I have firsthand experience with, and I want to leverage my knowledge to support as many people as I can.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I previously used my career as the primary platform for advocacy. I’ve spoken publicly at large conferences about veterans’ disability benefits. I also just started volunteering with a new online publication for veterans, Veteran Lifestyle Magazine.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
I am so excited to have the opportunity to continue advocating for the military and veteran community. I want to use the MSOY title as an opportunity to demystify the VA’s disability rating system and process. The title would help me get the word out about the nonprofit for homeless veterans. I know oftentimes that veterans can feel overwhelmed with pursuing the disability benefits they’re entitled to. Educating military spouses prior to their spouses’ end of active duty date can provide vets with additional support. I also want to continue to network with civilian recruiters and encourage them to seek out talented military spouses and veterans. Ultimately, I want to use the title to help as many people as I can.


Ashley is a dedicated military spouse who has spent her career assisting disabled vets with their benefit claims and recently co-founded a non-profit to help vets who need financial assistance with medical evidence to support their disability claims.
- by MJ Maloof