Meet Ashley Brown – Lead Experience Coordinator at WeVett Realty!
A wearer of many hats, deeply fond of any tunes circa 1990’s (Backstreet Boys!), and relentlessly positive, she is a cornerstone at WeVett.
Ashley has been named the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
A well deserved title!
During her time in Albuquerque, she spent countless hours volunteering for the Kirtland Spouses Club, even with a newborn baby, and is described by fellow spouses as “always willing to help another spouse no matter what.”
Ashley spends her free time assisting wherever she can, and is on a mission to create a positive and supportive atmosphere for all military spouses. She volunteers at the base thrift shop, counsels spouses in need during deployments and extended temporary duties, and spent most of the pandemic trying to make life better for the Kirtland community.
Her personal motto is “see a need, fill a need,” and that is just what she’s doing as the 2023 AFI Spouse of the Year.
How did you become an Air Force Spouse?
Ashley: “My husband, Marc, and I were engaged to be married in 2013. We were going through college when he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the military. He was offered an Air Force scholarship which allowed him to finish his degree at Central Michigan University, and commission through Officer Training School.
When he mentioned wanting to join the Air Force, I supported him one hundred percent. I’m pretty sure my exact words were “Let’s go on an adventure!”
I feel like I really became an Air Force Spouse during our first Do-it-Yourself Move (DITY) to Ohio. I was heavily involved in the local “Moms of Pre-Schoolers” group,” and hoped to continue that involvement during our second PCS to Kirtland Air Force Base.
When we arrived at Kirtland, there was no housing, no restaurants, and we were just at the beginning of the pandemic. I decided to reach out on the local spouse Facebook page asking about a spouses club and it immediately turned into a bullying session overnight. It made me feel seriously unwelcome.
It was at this moment I realized I could either dislike the situation or make a change for inclusiveness for all spouses, so I joined the Kirtland Spouses Club and the rest is history.”
When was the first time you experienced employment struggles as a military spouse?
Ashley: “We moved to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, as our first duty station. We were moving from Michigan, so naturally I had to quit my job as a caregiver.
I was out of work for nearly a year before I started working for an Ohio home care company.
In that first year as a military spouse, I realized I needed to re-evaluate my long term career goals due to how often we PCS.
Luckily, my dear friend and fellow military spouse introduced me to Evan Kaufman at WeVett. Three years and two PCS’s later, we are still working together, and I’m so thankful I can take my job with me wherever we go.”
What do you think is the biggest roadblock for military spouses?
Ashley: “When it comes to employment, many military spouses want to work. It’s not that they aren’t trying.
According to the Military Spouse Employment Partnership through the Department of Defense, military spouses face a 24% unemployment rate and 77% of those spouses are actively seeking employment opportunities.
So many spouses are being called for interviews, but when they are transparent about gaps in their resume it is a huge red flag for potential employers. Even though they can not ask you if you are a military spouse, they can clearly see that you have been employed in a different state.
Even if you do not say explicitly that you are a military spouse, they can assume that you are connected to the military by seeing your employment history.”
How have you been able to balance your personal and professional goals?
Ashley: “Working for WeVett, a company that is supportive of my personal goals, has been a huge blessing.
I have been involved with the Kirtland Spouses Club for the past few years, and our most recent board year was the most stressful.
As the Kirtland Spouses Club President, I volunteered a ton of my free time to support the local community, and work did not get in the way of that. In fact, WeVett was supportive of all of my volunteer time.
Finding a company that allows me to work as a military spouse and pursue other passions has been incredible.”
What would you tell an employer about military spouses?
Ashley: “ I firmly believe that military spouses are the most flexible, dedicated and creative group of individuals. Unfortunately, we are often overlooked for employment due to the potential of moving.
Military spouses are so adaptable to a variety of situations. We are often given a very small amount of lemons, with no other ingredients, and told to make the best lemonade you have ever tasted.
We are a unique group of individuals that often overcome situations that many others have never experienced. We know how to be a team player, we have learned to be supportive during the most difficult times, we know how to operate time zones apart, and we are ready to face any challenge at a moment’s notice.”
Why is winning the Armed Forces Insurance Spouse of the Year award important to you?
Ashley: “First, I am so thankful to my peers who nominated me for this award. Their support over the past year as club president has been instrumental.
It is my goal to use the AFI Spouse of the Year platform to advocate for military spouses and encourage employers to create remote working opportunities, if it is feasible.
Many companies have already taken the initiative to work together with military spouses so that they are able to continue their careers after a PCS, and that is a great step in the right direction.
I believe that by getting the word out about the support military spouses need for their career goals, it would not only benefit the spouses but also the organizations they are working for.
I hope through this award I am able to share the positivity that can come out of a negative situation. I believe I can make others see that they can turn lemons into lemonade and make a difference in their communities.”