Jennifer Nash

Branch: Army

Duty Station: Fort Wainwright

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 4

Share your military spouse story:
I was raised in a military strong family; both of my parents were Marines. In many households there is a wall where graduation photos hang, my grandparents had a wall of basic training photographs proudly on display. I began my adult life by leaving California and attending college in Nebraska at my family namesake school Creighton University. My freshman year is when 9-11 took place. I vividly remember TVs being rolled in and people crying in the dorm hallways. I looked outside and the sky was covered in aircraft, the President landed minutes away from my school and we watched from the 5th floor as he made his way to the Stratcom Bunker. A year later I transferred to the University of Hawaii, I was afforded a great scholarship opportunity. It was there where I met and married a brand-new Soldier from Virginia on his first duty station stop. After a few months of being married we found out we were expecting our first born and got word my husband would be deployed to Afghanistan. I was young and had no idea what to expect. We decided it would be best for me to move home to be near family. Two weeks before my husband's first 13-month deployment our son was born. Two-week-old Ryan and I said our goodbyes and hopped on a plane to California. Not being on a military post I found myself needing the comradery of other military connected people, so I helped found the first Los Banos Military Support Group. We moved back to Hawaii and then another deployment this time 15 months. We found out our daughter was on the way before the 3rd deployment and gave birth to Kaydence during his mid-tour leave in California before moving back to Hawaii again. Since then, I have been an FRG leader at every duty station we have been to. I have worked on post with our Special Education Military kids, DODEA schools, in the hospital, with a treatment center for military behavioral health and the USO. My story spans 21 years, it has many chapters this is just a glimpse at the start.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Jumping into every community we move to has been the reason I believe our military family has been so strong. Being an FRG or SFRG Leader is where it starts, making sure our military families get the vital information they need especially during deployments or time away. I have also stepped into key caller and family care team roles. I have been the sole contact for fallen soldier's families and helped plan funerals and memorials. I have also help plan homecomings, holiday parties, family days and balls. As a professional I now plan ways to lift morale as the USO Operations Manager for the North. If there is a need in the community, I help find a way to fill it. I have worked professionally and spent over 1500 hours volunteering to make sure our service members and their families have the best experience possible. Leadership also means lifting others up by motivating them to get out and get involved by example and I hope that is what I do every day.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
Every day I wake up and go to work with one goal in mind, to positively effect at least one person a day in the military or effected by the military. I work, play and live in the community. It is an interesting question for me what my involvement is in the military community, because it is our life. I am a part of the Family Connections Group of Fort Wainwright and the Community Action Team of Eielson AFB where we brainstorm what we can do to better our communities. We focus on trends and how to make sure we are meeting the needs of our community. I have worked with every agency on post to spread awareness of the resources available on and off post. Recently, we just finished visiting each and every barracks/dorm on Fort Wainwright and Eielson for the Holidays bringing decorations, food and gifts to each single service member we have. That took a lot of planning, fundraising and communication to pull off in two short weeks between training schedules and block leave.

Describe how you support your community:
I support our community by slowing down and really listening to what our service members and their families are saying. Every day I come into contact with so many people living on and off post and hear the struggles and what works for them especially here in the interior of Alaska. In my eyes Alaska is one of the more difficult duty stations there is because of the natural challenges with weather and sunlight. One of the ways I support our community is welcoming our service members and their families with information. Not just brochures but that real information we all crave when we get somewhere new. Who has the best childcare in town, what places hire spouses and keep them, where do I buy the best winter gear, where can I service my car without spending an entire paycheck. Food banks, church families, support groups, behavioral health resources, healthcare providers. A great foundation makes a strong community, and that can start with a simple hello, I am so glad you are here.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for our service members and their families to have what they need to get the mission done without hesitation. My platform is "Army Arctic Strong" No service member or their family should worry about feeding or clothing their children, heating their homes or having access to appropriate timely health care. Recently our OCOLA has been cut, and it has a large effect on our goal. I have encouraged everyone I come into contact with to fill out the Alaska COLA survey, we need to communicate that our living expenses in Alaska are different than others. Working with our Chaplains, ASYMCA, Alaska Warrior Partnership, WWP, The Cohen Clinic, MWR, Army OneSource, and so many more to help while we transition over the next few months. This is crucial to keep our service members focused on their mission and our families healthy and happy. Our next generation of military members are the children of service members now and making sure they feel included in this life is so important to me!

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
I have the unique opportunity to speak directly to our service members and their families daily. I encourage them to advocate for themselves by filling out surveys and by attending town hall events and connecting with their SFRGs to stay up to date on new information. Educating myself on the resources available and how to access them so that I may share them whenever possible. I am active on several social media group pages and try and share the information and resources as best I can. I attended the Military Defense Forum and sat in on several breakout discussions on how the community could step in and support our military community more. I am part of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, the Wellness Coalition and many other groups that target how to improve the lives of our military community as it continues to morph and grow. Helping bridge the gap of communication is how I plan on helping assure the message is conveyed in both directions with my 21 years of experience.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
With the title of the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title I hope to accomplish bringing awareness to the challenges our Service Members, their Spouses and their children face in the Arctic. Alaska's strategic military importance is undeniable and growing. I have been stationed in Hawaii and Germany both OCONUS duty stations but there is something so different about -40 winters and no sunlight. While there are so many advantages being stationed here there are many things, we could do to make the experience of being stationed in Alaska so much better. This is our last stop on our Military journey we made the choice to return to Fairbanks to finish out my husband's career, it is near and very dear to my heart. They call it the Golden Heart City for a reason the community shows its love to our military. Communication and clarity of needs are what I hope to work on as we transition from being an active-duty family to a first-time civilian family over the next few years.


Jennifer is a one of a kind person. We met through our mutual want to better our military communities. She works hard to ensure there are events and programs for Airmen, Soliders, and Families to make Interior Alaska a great place to live! She truly tries to understand and empathize with those around her to best fill the gaps. She is a true leader and someone I am proud to call friend!
- by Lisa Slaba