Kirstin Navaroli

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: Joint Base Andrews

Number of Deployments: 2

Number of PCS's: 3

Share your military spouse story:
My parents looked at me like I had grown two extra heads when I told them I was applying for jobs across the country and would need help packing my belongings once I got one. I heard the words pouring out of my mouth and knew it sounded crazy, but it didn’t feel that crazy. Leaving the dream job I had just landed right out of graduate school. Moving myself 31 hours away from the only state I had ever lived in. Taking this risk for a guy I met when I was acting as a “wing-woman” for my college roommate and childhood friend. It sounded crazy, but I knew this was the best next step for me and that logic of simply taking the next best step has served me so well throughout my time as a military spouse. We’ve moved twice since that original cross-country leap of faith, weathered two deployments and countless TDYs, welcomed two beautiful children into the world, worked numerous jobs (despite shedding tears during large seasons of unemployment), and met so many incredible people along the way - including my first military friend and business partner, Jen. Together Jen and I co-founded Wives of the Armed Forces, or as it’s more commonly called WAFs. WAFs was born out of Gandhi's idea to “be the change” and the desire to make sure there wasn’t a single military significant other coming up in the generations following us who would feel isolated, forgotten, or unable to thrive in this lifestyle. We created the community and resource we craved so often in those early years. A space full of encouragement and support. A one-stop-shop where you can access legitimate and current career, relationship, and lifestyle resources all while reading the stories of milsos across the world sharing their struggles, learned wisdom, and best advice for those coming behind them. Turns out that mindset of doing the next best thing has taken me for the ride of a lifetime and I am honored to be in a position to leave this space better than I found it.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
I have always been a helper. From a young age my parents saw this on my heart and throughout my life I’ve sought out opportunities to fill in gaps where help was so desperately needed. Through creating Wives of the Armed Forces with Jen we established a platform and community of empowered milsos that choose to thrive in military life rather than fall victim to it. We help them find tangible resources that get their needs met, whether that’s financial relief, mental health support during a time of crisis, or tips for the best way to prepare for a full-DITY move. We also to ensure that those who find WAFs are seen and heard. Through the voices of many, we offer a diverse representation of military life. Everything from what to expect with a specific military job from the milso perspective to the best resources to navigate infertility as a military family. These voices are powerful and through our leadership, we support a platform that amplifies them.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
From serving as a Key Spouse at two of our three assignments (and earning the honor of 2020 Laughlin Key Spouse of the Year) to co-founding and operating the Wives of the Armed Forces platform my level of involvement varies from day to day, but one thing is certain, serving the military community is what keeps my fire burning. Some key, memorable highlights of my involvement include: interviewing guests on podcast episodes with powerful messaging of encouragement and support; hosting in-person meet-up opportunities for milsos in four different cities; securing partnerships to employ a team of paid military spouses; supporting private Facebook groups to connect military spouses of different branches to likeminded milsos eager to connect; sharing job opportunities and career resources to help tackle the unfathomable milso unemployment rate; speaking and training groups of milsos; engaging in thoughtful conversations with senior leadership spouses.

Describe how you support your community:
When conceptualizing Wives of the Armed Forces, the mission was to ensure that at the very least one person received help. Having experienced low seasons along my journey as a milso, the hope was to be a comforting resource (and friend!) to those who came behind us. 6 years into this work, I have learned how powerful words can be. I have personally experienced the hurt that can come from the comparison. Words matter. This is why we intentionally use inclusive language such as milso (military significant other) instead of milspo (military spouse). I have always recognized that as individuals we have limited experience. WAFs was built on the reality that one person’s experience may be vastly different from another’s. The key to making sure milsos know they are seen is cultivating a diverse group of voices. I am humbled to be one of the conduits on the WAF team that connects spouses of all backgrounds and journeys together so that they can feel the support we all need to succeed.

What do you advocate for? Why?
Through Wives of the Armed Forces, I advocate for the brand new milso that has been thrown into this lifestyle with open eyes and open hearts to historically be met with a whole lot of “just you wait”. I believe that comparison between military hardships serves no one and instead through genuine support and encouragement, we can collectively make the lifestyle of a military family more rewarding. I deeply value leaving something better than I found it and, with the pending military retention crisis, am doing my part to shed light on the important military family variables that have often been overlooked such as childcare, milso unemployment, and military family health/wellness to make sure military family voices are heard and effective change takes place. I believe this is possible by using the WAF platform to mediate impactful conversations and advocate for military family needs through social media.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Wives of the Armed Forces is one of the first platforms to effectively use social media to spread positivity and encouragement online and in doing so curate a community of empowered and involved military significant others. From the beginning, we have used social media trends to effectively communicate to large masses of military families and have since expanded those efforts to a variety of platforms and media including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Patreon, Spotify podcasts, published news media, government-paid public-speaking engagements, and more! Together, as the co-founders of this platform, we have created a two-way dialogue within the military community using media that is honest and focused on improving the military lifestyle.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
The best resource we have as military spouses is each other. That was as true 50 years ago as it is now, the only difference being we now have tools to disseminate that word-of-mouth wisdom a lot more efficiently through social media. With the support of the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title we could increase awareness for the Wives of the Armed Forces platform and community, collectively improving the number of milsos helped, seen, and supported.


The experiences of today's military families have drastically changed over the past several decades. However, cultivating a strong military family that is fulfilled in their quality of life has never been more important. Enter Kirstin Navaroli and her friend/business partner Jen Ferrell, Air Force spouses who have tapped into authentic, meaningful ways to connect today's modern military spouse through their platform Wives of the Armed Forces. These heart-centered community builders are hardly influencers, they are DOERS that CARE (and happen to be successful social media role models). They have created a two-way dialogue with our community that is refreshing, honest and focused on improving unique situations in a way that best serves each individual's family. These gals are a force with a mission that matters.
- by Lyndsey Akers