Tom Bozung

Branch: Air Force

Duty Station: Offutt Air Force Base

Number of Deployments: 1

Number of PCS's: 9

Share your military spouse story:
My much better half and I met at the Air Force Academy our junior year. Shortly following graduation, we began a lengthy and long-distance engagement until we could reunite after her medical school and my pilot training track. I have been an Air Force Spouse for over 20 years. The first 9 years I was active duty myself as a helicopter pilot. In 2012 we determined that our family needed a change of pace, since then I have been a stay-at-home dad/homemaker for our one son and multiple fur babies. I quickly learned that being a stay-at-home parent with a four year old was a full time job and that thinking you can simultaneously complete a major kitchen renovation at the same time was far beyond wishful thinking and quickly became an exercise in expectation management. The renovations were eventually completed, but the demands of being a full time stay at home parent wasn't the only reality shift I had to adjust to. The loss of my military work family combined with the isolation of a homemaker was a serious challenge to my mental health. Luckily, I had another military spouse that we had known for many years that I could lean on. Just the short conversations of shared struggles while dropping off food during a meal exchange was rejuvenating. I learned to combat my isolation by getting involved with the community around me. Early on that meant my son's school or activities. Whether it was the PTA or scouts, I learned that just showing up got you involved and routinely showing up got you to invited to be leadership. That sense of getting involved found its way back to the military community when my wife began her command journey. I focused my energy on her unit as a Key Spouse Mentor as well as growing a sense of community amongst her airmen and their families. As my wife's influence grew so have the scope of my contributions. I now find my efforts focused on improving the sense of community for the installation or even beyond.

Share an example of your leadership experience within the military community:
Becoming a Key Spouse Mentor began my leadership experience. I've served in that capacity at four different installations. I've organized multiple children's Halloween/Holiday events bringing together families and young airmen alike. Likewise, I've managed quarterly dorm dinners that give airmen a home cooked meal and broaden the sense of 'family' for all involved. I've created 4 themed escape room events that allow up to 50 people to compete in teams against each other at the same time. On a larger scale, I volunteered with the Armed Services division of the Red Cross and managed over 85 volunteers and helped them safely return to in-person work following COVID. I have presented my journey and best practices at base Storytellers, the Leader Development Course at Maxwell, and Mrs. Brown's & Mrs. Raymond's Key Spouse engagement series. Currently I'm on committees that helped raise $20K for scholarships for dependents as well as planning a Dining In for 120+ spouses.

Describe your involvement in the military community:
I had a Chief coin my involvement as "you don't do easy, you do extra", and while I often find myself in that 'extra' realm it is always because I think the people are worth it. Mostly, I attempt to bring people together. One of my proudest efforts is Treat Trolley. So far, I have organized 29 trollies; it's a monthly activity where with the help of a couple spouses we make around 160 homemade treats and then hand them out with leadership. Everyone loves a treat, but the magic is the little conversations that happen in the short period of dispersing them and getting leaders out with their airmen routinely. It's the informal moments we share that make bonds and strengthen our community. I believe you get out of a community what you put in. Your energy bank may not always have 'extra' to give, but I've found when I can, it's almost always returned. Either way, whether it's a coffee group of three or bunco group of 30 I try to be involved--for the moments.

Describe how you support your community:
The best way I've found to support my community is to get involved. Whether it's reshelving books at my son's school library or serving as the PTA Secretary I've found the more you interact with people the more you break down stereotypes. I've volunteered extensively with Scouts, but it's often obscure opportunities like helping a book fair that have given me interactions where I've been able to surprise people and make unexpected connections. Often, I'm the only male in a room of women and the perception is that I'll have little in common with them. Almost always, it couldn't be further from the truth. I'm best able to break down perceived differences by discussing shared struggles. For instance, the lack of adult conversation, balancing child care responsibilities with career desires, doubts of self worth, continually building your support network, and how all of that effects our mental health. Even when we don't share interests, we often share challenges.

What do you advocate for? Why?
The most difficult part of moving from Active Duty to a stay-at-home spouse was the stark realization of how strong your community and sense of purpose was to how isolated and vulnerable you could feel. I learned that just a few words of shared understanding could go a long way. While I have a few spouses who inspire me, I feel much more connected to spouses who have shared their struggles and imperfections. We all struggle differently in some way, but collectively it's the struggles that unite us the most. Some of them are unique to the military community and some are common to everyone. Many times I don't need a solution for my struggle only to know that I'm not alone with it. I advocate for finding your tribe, tools that help you connect with your tribe and expanding your perception of who your tribe might be. Someone might be in a different season of life, but that doesn't mean you don't have shared experiences. We all know the struggle of carboard boxes.

How have you spread the message of your platform/advocacy?
The best way I have found to help is to be present, and often the most helpful moments are the unexpected ones. I've attended Heartlink sessions as a mentor before and without question, the most productive moments came on the breaks and not during the scripted sessions. They have to trust you to open up, and frequently sharing your own vulnerabilities is the fastest way to gain that trust. On my personal Facebook page I routinely use a combination of sarcasm and self-deprecation, because too often we share the perfect versions of ourselves, and we thus set unrealistic expectations of reality. Even when I've presented on the Key Spouse Engagement Series or with the Leader Development Course at Air University (both virtually) I found that received more engagement in areas that I shared personal vulnerability. More than not, sharing a vulnerability empowered a viewer to share their solution. Collectively we all want each other to thrive, and we want to know we aren't alone.

What do you hope to accomplish with the AFI Military Spouse of the Year® title?
If I could accomplish anything, I would hope that it would be to grow the strength of community. The military lifestyle has some unique hardships, and one of our biggest challenges is the continual uprooting of our families and subsequently their respective community networks they developed for the nth time in as many years. I want to inspire others to not be afraid to rebuild those relationships. I want them to understand they aren't alone and that they have a lot in common with the person sitting next to them at the food court or even the vehicle next to them at the park that still has the German vehicle inspection sticker on it. If we can normalize asking the person you just met the day before to be your child's emergency contact at school we can get spouses more connected with their tribe.


Since he arrived at Offutt in July, Tom has jumped right in selflessly serving others. For the 55th Medical Group, Tom is the key spouse mentor, collaborates with the booster club, volunteers for fundraisers, built a mailbox for kids to write letters to Santa and wrote individual letters to kids in response, cooks food for dorm residents and coordinates a treat trolley once a month- making over 350 treats for staff. He is also part of a team that picks up groceries each week for the Airman's Attic. He serves on the planning committee of the Scholarship auction and Spouses Dining In - spending hundreds of hours creating items like large decorative arcs and games. He is always ready to lend a hand whether its building an escape room for a social, providing food for events, helping edit speeches, jump start batteries for neighbors, etc. I am sure there is much more Tom does that I am unaware of. He is the most generous person who undoubtedly deserves to be Military Spouse of the Year.
- by Shannon Howard