MOAA Advisory Council Member Named Air Force Spouse of the Year

MOAA Advisory Council Member Named Air Force Spouse of the Year
Courtesy photo via Air Force

A member of MOAA’s Currently Serving Spouse Advisory Council who fiercely advocates for military spouses recently received one of the military’s most prestigious civilian distinctions.


Whitney Armstrong was named the 2020 Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year, an award recognizing the contributions made by civilian spouses to the Air Force community.


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“I was shocked and humbled,” Armstrong told MOAA. “I’m just doing what I’m passionate about, what I love to do. And so I sincerely appreciate it, but I know there are so many incredible military spouses out there that deserve the same level of recognition, and I hope that they receive it in their own way, shape, or form.”


Armstrong got her first taste of military life about a year before she married her then-fiancé. Armstrong had made plans to complete student teaching assignment at a school in Wyoming, where she believed her soon-to-be husband would be stationed after training. She had already started when the military changed his orders to Minot, N.D.


“That was our first lesson that you don’t ever go anywhere until you really, really know for sure that you have the orders in your hand and you’re on the ground. That was our introduction into the military life,” she said, laughing at the memory.



Whitney Armstrong, left, receives the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service from Suzie Schwartz, wife of former Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz, USAF (Ret), during a recent ceremony. Armstrong was eligible for the award after completing more than 4,000 hours of volunteer service. (Photo via Whitney Armstrong)


Armstrong finished her yearlong assignment and then moved about 700 miles north to Minot to be with her husband, now a captain in the Air Force. They’ve been married for eight years; Mason Armstrong commissioned from the U.S. Air Force Academy and is an intelligence officer serving as the assistant director of operations, Ballistic Missile Analysis Squadron, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Minot Air Force Base was the couple’s first duty station and where Armstrong was welcomed into the military spouse community. She still remembers a gift basket that another spouse gave to her and how she helped navigate the nuances of military life.


“We were living on base, which in North Dakota is a huge plus because there’s so many people that you become close friends with and you hunker down when it’s negative-64 degrees outside and you go hang out with one another,” she said. “The community of people that rally around to support one another is what really helped us on that wild journey of hopping around a lot the first couple years of the military.”


Since that experience, Armstrong has been a fierce advocate for military spouses. She is a teacher and passionate about advocating for policies that would make the process of transferring professional certifications and licenses easier as spouses move with their servicemember to new duty stations. 


She has taught at five schools in four different states with many students that were children of servicemembers. Working with military children gave her greater insight into their challenges and further drove her desire to advocate for military families.


“In a lot of ways, it helped drive my advocacy efforts in terms of trying to make the world a better place,” she said. “I think I learned a lot from them just as much as they learned from me.”


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About the Author

Amanda Dolasinski
Amanda Dolasinski

Dolasinski is a former staff writer at MOAA.