Military Spouse Appreciation Spotlight: Kristen Gilbert

Prologue ~

Each year the Friday before Mother’s Day is set aside as National Military Spouse Appreciation Day. This year it is May 12th. Being a military spouse is a familyhood of those who also support the military; no different than the other support organizations that help the military achieve their goals. In this issue you will meet five military spouses, each with a unique story to tell.

They discuss the challenges of being a military spouse, their backgrounds, and how we as the general public can help honor them.

I want to thank Jennifer Holliday for setting this up for us. It started with a conversation at a 90th birthday party for Billy “Pop” Neal (who was on our Veterans Day cover last November). We met and brainstormed ideas and what you will read is the culmination of these meetings. I would also like to thank the military spouses who participated in this project. Your dedication to your spouses and our country is truly appreciated. — Bob Druckman

Tell us about your background, where you are from originally, schooling, and family information. Also, how long in Huntsville.

I grew up as a military child and loved the culture so much that I chose to pursue it personally. My Dad modeled selfless service and I was drawn to a career field that valued people, leadership, integrity and teamwork. I earned an ROTC Scholarship at Wake Forest University and upon graduation, I commissioned as a Quartermaster Officer in the U.S. Army.

Within 5 months of arrival to my unit, I deployed to Afghanistan for 15 months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and I would deploy there for another 12 months the following year as a Company Commander of 212 Soldiers. The leadership opportunities afforded to me were life changing. After transitioning out of the Army as a Captain, I married a wonderful Logistics Officer, Pete, and was back in the lifestyle as a military spouse! I earned an MBA, had 2 great kiddos, and have been supporting my husband in his various leadership positions, including Battalion and Brigade Command. I care deeply about my role as a military spouse and it has been so rewarding. We had the pleasure to live in Huntsville during 2016-2018 and are thrilled to have moved back this past summer.

What are some challenges in finding a position as a military spouse?

Many military spouses encounter several unique barriers to employment. They face frequent and abrupt moves, often with short notice. There is added difficulty in transferring professional licenses from state to state. Also, high demand on the Active Duty service member means that spouses often carry the majority of responsibility of parenting during certain periods such as deployments and long training exercises. Moreover, I have often seen that the absence of the service member is commonly coupled with childcare difficulties. Military spouses are less likely to live near family & likely feel these are uniquely military challenges which hinder them from entering the workforce.

What position do you hold today?

We recently completed two years of Brigade Command in the 101st Airborne Division. There I served as the Soldier & Family Readiness Group (SFRG) Senior Advisor at the Brigade level. This dynamic leadership role focused on leading and mentoring approximately 2500 Soldiers & spouses as it pertained to our SFRG program – communicating available resources, planning large-scale events, communicating with military & community leaders.…during which time Pete and his Brigade was deployed to the Middle East and spread across 13 countries for 9 months. I also served as President of the Fort Campbell School Board in 2022. Having moved to Huntsville this past summer, I currently substitute teach at my children’s school and am focused on raising two great kiddos who are active in many areas.

May 12 is honored as National Military Spouse Day, what does that mean to you?

Military spouses, like Soldiers, represent the best of who we are as Americans. Even during demanding circumstances, military spouses sacrifice and serve their families and community to meet the needs of those around them. They juggle so many responsibilities and are knit together by a commitment to serve and invest in others for the greater good. They are inspiring leaders, enthusiastic and active citizens, and I am honored to call so many military spouses my closest friends.

How can the general public help honor military spouses?

A commitment from the community to strengthen military families through increasing military spouse employment would be so helpful. Recognizing the value they bring to an organization equates to unlimited potential for growth, success and connection within the community. As a parent, it is also helpful when schools foster a climate of inclusion for blue star children. Encouraging their students to widen their friendship circles when new students arrive is very important and helps our children feel a sense of belonging. Our children are resilient and acclimate quickly! I feel that Huntsville is consistently striving to meet the needs of its military families, and for that I am grateful and proud to call Huntsville home.

One thought on “Military Spouse Appreciation Spotlight: Kristen Gilbert

  1. loved reading your post.
    This is what I see in your post
    This is a wonderful article highlighting the sacrifices and dedication of military spouses. It is inspiring to hear from someone like the author who has dedicated their life to service. National Military Spouse Day is an important reminder to appreciate and support these amazing individuals.
    Thanks, Ely Shemer


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