Jenny Lynne Stroup

Branch: Navy

Duty Station: Naval Station Norfolk

Number of Deployments: 3

Number of PCS's: 3

Share your military spouse story:
“I didn’t know there were people like you.” This statement will be etched in my brain forever. I had the opportunity to participate as a panelist for the Theater of War program at the Guggenheim Museum. Being a panelist for Theater of War meant watching actors do several scenes from “Philoctetes” and connect what we saw in the play to our own military life experiences. After the play panelists shared what resonated with them with an audience who were mostly civilians. What resonated for me was the power of community. Six months after his carrier deployment, my husband checked off the boat and into an Army training command to prepare for his Individual Augmentee tour to Afghanistan. It was during this ground deployment that my friendships forged during the carrier deployment were the community I needed. I was scared 99% of the time. I was the mother of a toddler and baby. I was both afraid to go out and afraid to come home. My military friends bolstered me with their worst deployment stories and normalized the constant fear I felt. We laughed. We shared. We won the war against the constant fear, loneliness, and the unshakeable anxiety that comes from a loved one’s absence. I shared all of these things that night with an audience who mostly had no first-hand experience with war. So, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by the young woman’s comment, “I didn’t know there were people like you.” Outwardly, I smiled and nodded, but inside my head a thousand questions pinged around. What does that even mean? You didn’t realize that service members are married? You didn’t know that when someone goes off to war, they often leave a spouse and family behind? I was dumbfounded and more than a little irritated. My biggest regret from that evening is that I didn’t ask her what she meant. This experience became the foundation for how I now live and lead, using storytelling and relationship to bridge the military-civilian divide and build community.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
My leadership within the military community began with exceptional mentorship. I am grateful that my life as a military spouse began with being welcomed into the fold by the Commanding Officer’s wife during my husband’s first sea duty tour. That experience was paramount to laying the foundation of leading from a place of hospitality and belonging. Whether I was a volunteer table leader at a local moms’ group or a seasoned spouse working alongside command leadership at the command’s Family Readiness Group events, my goal is for people to feel welcome and a part of the organization. Professionally, as the Deputy Director, Military Spouse Programs at Hiring Our Heroes, I lead a team of military spouses and military connected individuals who work to lower the military spouse unemployment rate. By providing opportunities for positive job outcomes through events and building local community, we offer military spouses an open invitation to join us and belong to a community of professionals.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
From day one, I have approached military life in the spirit of this Jill Briscoe quote, “You go where you’re sent, and you stay where you’re put, and you give what you’ve got.” At every duty station, whether I was the only military spouse some people had ever met, or one of thousands of military spouses, I’ve given what I’ve got for the betterment of the military community. Helping with command events, volunteering for military service organizations, and leading small groups, have all been in service being involved and building community. Even when I was stationed in a remote location devoid of other military families, I became an educator, bridging the military-civilian divide by fostering community amongst our civilian neighbors and offering them an opportunity to see modern military family life up close. Personal involvement in the military community also defined my professional goals showing me the importance of working in the military connected space for the betterment of all.

Describe how you support your community:
Support is best defined by the people who receive it. Often times it’s difficult to qualify or quantify the impact we have on others so, I offer the words of a friend and fellow military spouse. “She noticed me, even when I didn’t speak. Her home always had an open door, so mine is as welcoming as I can make it. She shared hard truths, even when she was still working out the kinks. Perfection was never her goal, but connection was. Authenticity fostered a genuine connection and inspired a new level of friendship; one that felt like a home atop the shifting ground that the military family is expected to build a foundation upon. I believe that every military spouse will find their own version of Jenny Lynne, but maybe it’s more accurate to say that she will find you. Because that’s what the Jenny Lynnes of the world do. They find you, and they make sure that you feel seen, heard, and validated. When they do that, building understanding and friendship, people change.”

What do you advocate for? Why?
The underlying theme of all the advocacy work I do is a goal of true stability for military families. As someone who grew up in a military area but had no real knowledge of what military life was like, I now work to foster that stability through military-civilian partnership. That stability comes in many forms; the two areas that are closest to my heart are affordable and attainable mental health services for military families and sustainable employment for military spouses. As the Outreach Coordinator for the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at VVSD, I worked with military families, senior military leadership, and civilian stakeholders to increase the access and affordability of mental health services for the post-9/11 population. In my current role as, Deputy Director, Military Spouse Programs at Hiring Our Heroes, I work with local and national employers and my team to build programs and initiatives that lead to the hiring and retention of the military spouse workforce.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Storytelling, through essays and articles, is my favorite way to spread the message. I’ve published articles on modern military life with media outlets including The Warhorse, Task & Purpose, Her View From Home, Mission Milspouse, Legacy Magazine, including a monthly column in Homeland Magazine. I also worked with the Veteran’s Spouse Project as a co-writer on the play “in*BETWEEN,” telling the story of how military spouses piece together a real, authentic life from all the in betweens military life brings. I also cohosted the “Holding Down the Fort” podcast for four seasons, sharing the stories of the military connected community. I’ve also worked with local and national television outlets as well as local newspaper outlets to promote the message and mission of various military and veteran service organizations. Lastly, I’ve been a speaker and panelist in several arenas, sharing the modern military family story through the lens of my own military family experience.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
As the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® I hope to expand on the foundation that was laid the evening that young woman said to me, “I didn’t know there were people like you.” That evening, I was five years into my life as a military spouse. Up until I moved to that duty station in Manhattan, I lived in area full of military personnel and their families. I was surrounded by people just like me. But the truth is people just like me make up 0.2% of the population of the United States. So, if I could have a do-over with that audience member I would ask her if she would like to hear more stories about people like me. And I might have told her that somebody like me never imagined she would fall in love with someone in the military, but she did, and it changed her life. I believe the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title offers the opportunity to better bridge the gap between the military and civilian populations on a national scale and I aim to accomplish just that.


Jenny Lynne is a MilSpouse advocate & community builder, workforce development pro, educator, & mental health advocate. She consistently serves and gives voice to the MilSpouse community, and increased her contribution at the national level as the deputy director of military spouse employment at Hiring Our Heroes. In 2023, she raised our two middle schoolers as I completed a deployment aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). On that deployment, she was an active member of the USS George H.W. Bush FRG, empowered military families through her work with Naval Services FamilyLine's CORE Program & the Hampton Roads Navy League, & inspired Civ-Mil connection through her written contributions to the Veterans Spouse Project play in*Between. She also brought HoH Military Spouse Hiring & Amplify events open to the Joint Force in Hampton Roads. Jenny Lynne supported the rollout of the 4+1 Commitment on Dec. 6 with First Lady Jill Biden, and will engage the business community to bring them into 4+1.
- by Matthew Stroup

Jenny Lynne is a leader for not only the Navy community, but for the entire military community. She has spent years serving the people around her in whatever capacity was needed while continuing to grow the impact of her service. She is an example of all the hats we wear as military spouses: advocate, colleague, friend, professional, spouse, mom, volunteer. She not only leads the way, but she shares her knowledge and resources with whomever is willing to learn. I want to be as hospitable, kind, and knowledgable as she is one day.
- by Heather Campbell