Lexie Coppinger

Branch: Army

Duty Station: Fort Liberty

Number of Deployments: 4

Number of PCS's: 5

Share your military spouse story:
I tend to say, "I didn't choose this lifestyle - it chose me!" I was born to an enlisted soldier who retired as an officer after 28 years of service. My mother was always volunteering & supporting those around her, but furthermore, always including my brother & I. As a child, I knew if we were headed to the KFC drive-thru for a bucket of chicken, we were headed to what I now know as an FRG meeting. My mom volunteered with a variety of community-building initiatives, always with my brother & I by her side while teaching us at a young age that loving your community & giving is the true purpose of life. My dad deployed more times than we PCS'd (& we PCS'd 8x), quickly learning the impacts deployments have on families & the importance of resiliency. I had the incomparable experience of living across the nation & graduating high school in Korea - a place I still call home. While at a BBQ in South Georgia, I met the love of my life. A quick elopement before a deployment to Iraq, a baby, a deployment to Afghanistan, 2 more kids, 2 more deployments, & 5 PCS's later, we're still holding strong at almost 15 years married. In November 2015, I faced my darkest day when my little brother, Kris, was killed in a head-on collision. Kris was a First Responder & about 2 months away from heading off to Army basic training. Kris's loss was a turning point that made me take a look at how I wanted to be sure my life was lived. In April 2019, our family faced yet another soul-shattering day when my little BIL, Joey, took his life 6 months after returning home from Afghanistan. Losing Joey was a different type of loss - soldier suicide leaves you with countless questions. Both Kris & Joey became my "why"; they're why I believe in the depths of my soul that we are meant to love each other, hold each other up, & help each other along the way in this wild ride of life. It's now become a life-long purpose to support our First Responders, Military, & Military Families in every way possible.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Recently, in the last quarter of 2023, I corresponded with military leadership & spouse's leading FRG's to coordinate the shipment of 22,900 individual care packages to currently deployed service members across every military branch. Alongside my Operation Gratitude family, we put in an "all hands on deck" effort into ensuring that military personnel were supported over the holidays as they faced rapid deployments & unexpected conditions. For many, these care packages are the only piece of mail they'll receive while away from "home". With the support of countless volunteers, fellow military spouses, donors, major corporations & business as well as joint efforts with other nonprofits like The Gary Sinise Foundation, we ensured our deployed were seen, acknowledged, appreciated & loved. Our military families need to feel that same way as well - in 2023 alone, I coordinated the shipment of over 23,000 hand-assembled Battalion Buddy teddy bears for our military children facing deployments.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
About 1 month after marrying & during my very first deployment experience as a military spouse, I volunteered as the FRG Leader. I quickly learned first-hand what it's like to not only navigate life during deployment, but how to also care for those surrounding you going through the same challenges. Eventually, I became a brigade-level Family Readiness Support Assistant in a unit that consistently had 1/3 of the unit deployed. While at Fort Moore (formerly Benning), I instructed the Community Resources portion of the quarterly Spouse Leadership Seminar & then began instructing Army Family Team Building "train the trainer" courses in areas like Platform/Presentation Skills & Team Building. I volunteered as the local coordinator for Operation Homefront, organizing multiple school supply & holiday meal giveaways. I've now found a home as the Military & Family Programs Manager for the national nonprofit Operation Gratitude, serving service members of every branch & their families worldwide.

Describe how you support your community:
As an individual working directly with active-duty, dependent, & civilian leaders in every branch of the military, I've had the most incredibly unique, humbling exposure of experiencing needs our military community faces firsthand. Regardless of rank, branch, classification, duty station, or any other factors, there's a continually growing need for support & often, military service members & their families are forgotten. I've been blessed to help coordinate the shipment of over 135,000 individual care packages to deployed personnel around the world & over 40,000 hand-assembled Battalion Buddy teddy bears to military children facing deployment across the nation through Operation Gratitude. I've volunteered in my communities to collect, assemble, & hand out hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies for families needing an extra hand, entire holiday meals for families just needing a little extra help, and eagerly jump in to help any military family in need.

What do you advocate for? Why?
Military spouses, families & our service members face a consistent, ever-changing need to adapt, revise, shift, & in the wise words of the show Friends, "Pivot!" We face deployments, extensions, TDY's, PCS's, trainings, more extensions, changes to Plans A-Z, & an endless need to get creative in our support systems, careers, resources, wellness & basic needs. I firmly believe it is crucial to empower both our Military & Civilian communities through resource & support management, community service, volunteerism & community building. By bridging ties between needs, resources, & opportunities, we create a broader support system that feeds into further opportunities to meet growing needs within our military community by also providing our nation's civilian community to come together as a whole & support those that serve.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
Neither actions nor words speak louder than the other, but storytelling at its core tends to speak a language even words can't capture. By sharing our stories, we have the ability to relate & provoke emotional & mental understanding that's felt, seen, & heard. From those stories, we have the capacity to plant seeds that create ripples. Thankfully, I've been very fortunate to share my story across multiple speaking engagements with Corporations, Chamber of Commerce's, Rotary Clubs, Nonprofit & Community events, Town Hall's, Networking events, media outlets, social media, and personal one-on-one talks. I've been blessed to directly work with military leadership, Family Readiness Groups, Chaplains, & many individuals within every, single branch of the military on a weekly basis to understand, relate, share, & listen to our military's current support needs. Additionally, I thoroughly enjoy utilizing LinkedIn & social media as a platform for awareness, storytelling, & outreach.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
As our nation faces growing tensions across the globe, our military is directly on the frontline. Military personnel & their families are currently faced with growing amounts of uncertainty & are left simply hoping for a safe return home. Resources revolving around deployments have declined, yet statistically military personnel are encountering more deployments, rotations, & separation than what was seen in post-9/11 Iraq & Afghanistan. Service members & their families face a wide range of emotions during deployments, including mental health challenges & feelings of loneliness & isolation. Our resources do not reflect the statistics, yet service members & families continue to face challenges. With the support of AFI Military Spouse of the Year®, I hope to bring these needs of support to a larger light & increase opportunities for both our military & civilian communities to come together in a joint effort to support our service members & their families.


It gives me great pleasure to nominate Lexie Coppinger to be considered for the recognition of Military Spouse of the Year. Her tireless efforts and outstanding leadership in our military community has not gone unnoticed. Lexie works for Operation Gratitude as the Military & Family Program Manager. Operation Gratitude is a nonprofit that provides opportunities for the American people to express their gratitude and show our Military and first responders that what they do matters. Since 2003 they have sent a total of 3.5 million Care Packages containing carefully chosen items meant to boost the morale and resilience of our service members and give them warm reminders of home. Lexie has been part of this organization that has allowed her too helped many military families, military spouses and even support other organizations. I have had the pleasure to get to know Lexie and witness first hand that she is a true leader with a servant heart.
- by Miles for the Heart