Chelsea Kegler

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: Andersen Air Force Base

Number of Deployments: 3

Number of PCS's: 6

Share your military spouse story:
Born and raised in Connecticut, my journey took an unexpected turn when I ventured to Tucson, AZ, to pursue my studies at the University of Arizona. Little did I know, this decision would introduce me to a world far beyond my familiar surroundings—a world of military life. It was in Tucson that I met and married my husband, the love of my life. The idea of military service was foreign to me, despite having grandparents and great uncles who had served in the Army and Air Force. Two years into our courtship, we became engaged, and our lives quickly took a military turn. Just two weeks after our engagement, my husband received orders, initiating a whirlwind of change. In a matter of two months, we found ourselves stationed in Cape Canaveral, FL, marking my initiation into the military community. Here, we welcomed our first child, and the challenges of military life intensified when my husband was sent to Korea for a year-long remote tour without dependents. Alone with a 3-month-old, I experienced a profound sense of isolation as my husband's former unit moved on, leaving my baby and me seemingly forgotten. Undeterred, I sought solace and support through the Patrick AFB Airman and Family Readiness Center and the deployed spouse program, discovering the resilience within myself to navigate this challenging chapter. As our journey continued, we welcomed two more children, and I was asked to serve as a Key Spouse. As a Key Spouse, I embraced my role as a bridge between the military community and the valuable assistance that was sometimes overlooked, to include our current location, Andersen AFB in Guam—a place that feels like the middle of nowhere. My journey is a testament to the resilience and strength that can be found in the face of adversity. As we navigate the unique challenges of military life, my commitment to fostering connection and support remains unwavering—a commitment fueled by the belief that no military spouse should ever feel alone in their journey.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
In May 2024, Guam confronted Super Typhoon Mawar's ferocity, enduring 18 hours of 130-156 mph winds. As a compassionate community leader, I engaged with our squadron, ensuring their preparedness. I maintained contact with 151 airmen and families, offering informed guidance and emotional support. Amidst the storm, our home became a sanctuary, providing shelter and meals for dozens daily. We extended support to families with destroyed homes. Post-storm, the focus shifted to recovery. As a Master Resiliency Trainer, I trained others, directly impacting dozens of families and airmen. The numbers attest to the impact of compassionate leadership in crisis. My commitment as a compassionate community leader is unwavering—to ensure no spouse feels alone. In times of isolation, informed guidance, mentorship, and a deep responsibility for community well-being are the essence of effective leadership. Collaboratively, we can turn challenges into opportunities for shared growth and resilience.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
My enduring commitment to the military community surpasses the role of a Key Spouse. I've spearheaded diverse initiatives, establishing Girl Scout troops, and serving on the PTO Board at Andersen Elementary. Co-coaching Andersen Middle School's volleyball team reflects my dedication to physical activity, sportsmanship, and teamwork. Leading the non-profit Cinderellas Closet, our $13k inventory of loaned dresses provides tangible support to military-affiliated individuals. Active participation in the Spouses Club includes fundraising for morale and two annual scholarships, expanding educational opportunities. In 2022, I became an RTA, training 103 on resilience. Progressing to an MRT in 2023, I guide military members and dependents, empowering them and training future RTAs for a broader impact on resilience within our community. This multifaceted involvement showcases my unwavering dedication to empowering, supporting, and fostering resilience in the military community.

Describe how you support your community:
My community-building passion focuses on inclusiveness. Initiatives like the community garden, connecting the Girl Scout community, and collaborating with local government showcase my commitment. Orchestrating beach cleanups and involving off-base organizations reflect my active encouragement. I reach out to military and local leaders, fostering connections for military families' well-being. In a small island 7,000 miles away, my priority is ensuring every spouse and family feels at home. Recognizing potential isolation, I disseminate island-wide resource information, emphasizing inclusiveness. Advocating for policy changes, like the restrictive car policy, reflects my commitment to enhancing the quality of life for military families. In summary, my community-building approach centers on proactive advocacy, genuine connection, and unwavering inclusiveness, fostering a sense of belonging for every military spouse within the broader military community.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for fostering a sense of belonging and connection within the military community because I've personally experienced the challenges of feeling alone. My commitment stems from the belief that no spouse should ever feel isolated, whether during deployments or in everyday life. The plethora of unfamiliar terms and policies can be overwhelming for dependents, often leaving them feeling disconnected and uninformed. My advocacy focuses on education, ensuring that spouses and dependents are aware of the resources available to them. By connecting families and spouses, we can bridge this gap and transform any unit into a supportive and cohesive community. My advocacy aims to create a network where knowledge is shared, support is readily available, and no military family feels alone in their journey. In essence, I advocate for a community that not only survives the challenges but thrives through collaboration, understanding, and a shared sense of belonging.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Effectively spreading my advocacy involves creating a welcoming environment through personal connections and open communication. I prioritize making everyone feel comfortable, emphasizing my commitment to support. Actively engaging in round tables, DV visits, and meetings with local government allows me to address critical issues. This participation not only highlights important topics but also showcases my commitment to advocacy and communication. In creating safe spaces for connection, both virtually and in person, I ensure that all members are informed about upcoming events locally and within the wing or unit. My accessibility and willingness to help make me a reliable resource, even online. Leveraging social media allows me to disseminate information and connect with a broader audience. In essence, my strategy revolves around building trust, fostering inclusivity, and ensuring individuals are well-informed for an enhanced military experience.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
With the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title, I hope to build resiliency within families. My vision is to increase awareness about the existence and significance of Key Spouses, ensuring that every individual, whether new or seasoned in the military community, knows they have this invaluable resource available to them. The sense of isolation or being forgotten is a profound and disheartening experience that I aim to eradicate. By helping spouses recognize their capabilities and understand the wealth of resources at their fingertips, I aspire to empower them to navigate the complexities of military life successfully, providing a roadmap for spouses and families to navigate each step of their military journey. Too often, individuals are left to figure things out on their own. Through education and empowerment, I believe we can create resilient families, thereby contributing to the success of active-duty members in their military careers.


As a fellow key spouse, her help and involvement is well seen and known! She holds multiple positions on Team Andersen Spouses Clun, she is also a board member for DODEA Andersen Elementary School PTO. She helps the wing commanders wife, Jeryn Palenske during DV visits to provide answers to multiple issues and topics. She volunteers for sports at DODEA Andersen Middle School. She helped provide recovery efforts after Typhoon Mawar of May 2023, by taking care of airmen, providing food, shelter and so much more! She helped with the recovery efforts in her squadron to get things back operational. Her volunteer work is amazing and it has helped benefit so many people around her, including myself. She deserves all the recognition
- by April Gerstner