Kaitlyn Avello

Branch: Army

Duty Station: USAG Stuttgart

Number of Deployments: 0

Number of PCS's: 3

Share your military spouse story:
I am often asked “what does your husband do for work?”. I have to think to myself “do I want to chose to educate this person, answer confidently, and reply - my wife?” Or do I chose to awkwardly navigate a quick response and save myself the battle of education. Entering into the military community, I had no idea just how often I would have to make the choice between education and easy. My military spouse story began in 2018 when I relocated to Seattle, WA from Fairfax, VA to kick off my “big girl” career. I was working my dream job in occupational therapy, regularly kayaking, hiking and occasionally swiping on the dating app Hinge. In 2019 I “swiped right” on the perfect woman. She checked all of the boxes: long brown hair, bilingual, athlete, and loves to dance. During our first date she eventually said “I work for the Army”. My stomach dropped. I knew what this life entailed , having grown up with two parents serving in the Armed Forces. In my mind, the Army life meant multiple moves, never being anywhere long enough to make true friends, and an untraditional life molded by the rigid systems of rules and regulations. Fast forward nine months and she was dropping on one knee in, dressed in the Blue Army Service Uniform, asking for my lifelong commitment in marriage. Wow. Of course I said yes! But I found myself getting nervous about having ALSO said “yes” to uncertainty, loneliness, and perhaps most concerning, to entering into a community known for being conservative. Enter: The United States Army.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
After moving to Bavaria I found myself feeling the need to do something more than “House 6” duties. I took a leap of faith when I stumbled across the “Bavaria Community Spouses Club” Facebook call for executive board members. I applied for the “thrift shop liaison” position because why not, I like to thrift. I was voted in as the 2022 Thrift Shop Liaison where I lead two thrift shops, multiple paid associates and two managers. I didn’t come from a retail background but I wanted to embed myself into something larger than myself and build a team that felt like a community. I was a volunteer leading paid employees but I realised I had a passion for donating my time for a larger cause and creating an inclusive environment with whatever team I am a part of. I told myself from the start I would be authentically me. That year, our thrift shop team brought in over $156,000 to put back into the community.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I serve in many capacities in/around USAG Stuttgart as a spouse. I am the Stuttgart Area Representative for Americans Working Around the Globe, a 501(c)3 private organisation, the mission of which is to train, strengthen and connect individuals in military communities through professional and leadership development. I am serving as the President of the Stuttgart Community Spouses Club where I oversee the Executive and Governing Boards, comprised of 22 people, and membership of over 350 community members. In addition to this crucial role, I manage the 554 Wardawg Solider and Family Readiness Group Committee for the 554 Military Police Company, which aims to provide support to the soldiers and families of 554.

Describe how you support your community:
I have adapted the title “professional volunteer”. I have dedicated my time to connecting with other military spouses, organizations, and our local community so that all military spouses feel included I show up as authentically me.

What do you advocate for? Why?
I advocate for myself and the LGBTQ+ community. I advocate for those who do not fit into the stereotype of what a military spouse looks like. I sometimes feel out of place being a cis woman married to a cis woman within this heteronormative community. I am proud of my tattoos, piercings and most importantly I am proud to be married to an officer in the United States Army.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
The goal of my volunteer work is to build authentic all inclusive community. A large part of creating community begins with outreach. As the President of the SCSC, I prioritise outreach initiative to ensure information and opportunities to connect are open to everyone in our community. Leverage social media platforms to build human connection with spouses from all walks of life. Spouses of junior Soldier, of general officers, from the Army or Marine Corps - everyone.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
To show others that there is no stereotypical “military spouse”. We come in all shapes and sizes and all walks of life, but this is what makes our connection so genuine and vital to the military community. Of course I want to represent the LGBTQ+ community but more importantly I want to show the inclusivity of this amazing organisation and show that everyday people like you and me make a difference!


I have only known Kaitlyn for less than a year, but I am so impressed with her! She stepped up in a big way for the Stuttgart Community Spouses' Club when our President moved away due to retirement; Kaitlyn took over without batting an eye. She has brought a breath of fresh air to the club and our board and serves with a willing and positive attitude. I also have the pleasure of serving with her on the Americans Working Around the Globe (AWAG) board where she continues to serve by bringing much needed leadership and professional development training to our OCONOS military spouse community. In both organizations, she has provided me a much needed sounding board when life gets tough and difficult situations arise.
- by Kristen Thoennes