By Amanda Huffman
The American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA), originally known as the Army Mutual Aid Association, was established on January 13, 1879, to support military families. With such a noble beginning, it isn’t surprising to learn that the focus and mission of AAFMAA in support of military families continues today. But now it also includes a focus on employing both Veterans and military spouses, many of whom are women.
MilSpouse and Army Veteran Charlene Wilde currently serves on AAFMAA’s leadership team as the Association’s Senior Vice President and Assistant Secretary. Wilde served in the Army from 1998 to 2004 as a Chemical Officer. She left the military when her first son was born to support her husband’s military career and take care of her family. After 11 years of being a stay-at-home mom along with a lot of volunteer hours, she was ready to return to the workforce.
Wilde has seen first-hand what it was like for a surviving family to navigate all the military’s benefits and entitlements. In 2015, one of her family’s best friends died unexpectedly. She wanted to find a way to serve this section of the military population. Her first role with AAFMAA was as a Survivor Assistance Coordinator. She served in that role for two years before being selected to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Association for three years. And that position led to the role she is in today, in which she remains passionate about helping military families.
Another high-ranking woman at AAFMAA was Brigadier General Elizabeth Hoisington (USA, Ret.). She was an AAFMAA Member for over 50 years and served on the AAFMAA Board of Directors as a Director and a Director Emeritus until her passing in 2007, with a total of 29 years of service. While in the service, she served in France after D-Day and is credited with leading the Women’s Army Corps through dramatic changes in the 1960s and 1970s. Hoisington is also one of the first two women to be selected for the rank of Brigadier General.
“My favorite part of my role at AAFMAA is being able to facilitate personal and professional growth for military spouses in a myriad of ways,” says Wilde.
Currently, two women are serving on AAFMAA’s Board of Directors, Col Elisabeth Strines (USAF, Ret.) and RADM Janice Hamby (USN, Ret.). They have a combined total of 25 years of service on the board.
There are many other women with a military connection who work at AAFMAA performing engaging work. This includes a team of military spouse content contributors for AAFMAA’s MilSpouse-focused SpouseLink online community helping to support military families. Other female Veterans and military spouses work in Finance, Member Relations, attend Military Spouse-related events and share AAFMAA’s mission and work, and others work as part of AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust LLC’s (AWM&T) team.
When some of AAFMAA’s MilSpouses and Veterans were asked to share their favorite things about working for the Association, they noted:
“My favorite part of working with AAFMAA has been meeting other spouses and bonding over shared experiences. The military lifestyle can certainly be a challenging one, but having an employer who supports you as well as friends who encourage you is priceless.”– Jessica Doty, Marine Corps Spouse, SpouseLink Ambassador
“First, being a part of a Team that takes great pride in the care of servicemembers, Veterans, and their families. Second, I learn something new every day at my job, and that is pretty amazing! Third, the balance of work and family. Primarily, I work from home; so I feel fortunate to have a great job and be able to see my children when they get home from school.”– Elizabeth Blackmore, Army Military Spouse, Client Associate at AWM&T
“The understanding, and support of what military life is like. Working with AAFMAA allows me to connect with colleagues across the nation that I might not otherwise have been able to.”– Sarah Martinez, Navy Military Spouse, SpouseLink Ambassador
“My favorite part about my job is meeting with our Members. What we do in Member Benefits is so personable, and because I am also a military spouse, it is very relatable. Seeing the relief and comfort come across a spouse’s face after discussing the services we provide survivors is invaluable. I am also learning an ENORMOUS amount, which all pertains to my life. I will be able to assist my husband better in making that transition from Active Duty to Retirement.”– Megan Penry, Military Spouse, Member Benefits Representative
“Writing for the military spouse community means a lot to me. I always viewed my husband’s role in the military as a ’family duty’ due to all that being [in] a military family entails. So, pouring into the military spouse community with encouragement and tips through my SpouseLink articles for AAFMAA is a great experience and joy for me. After so many years as a military spouse, I have learned a lot of lessons that I am glad to share.”– Jaimi Erickson, Marine Corps Spouse, SpouseLink Content Writer
“The best part of my job is working with my clients. I have the opportunity to get to know them on a personal basis and feel beyond satisfied when I can make a difference in their financial lives.”– Danielle Nuxoll, Army Military Spouse, Relationship Manager for AWM&T
About Amanda Huffman
Amanda is a military spouse and Veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer including a deployment to Afghanistan. She met her husband while attending college and they served on active duty together until their first son was born. It was then that she traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home. Amanda is now a mom of two boys and continues to follow her husband’s military career. She has lived in New Mexico, Ohio, California and currently resides in Northern Virginia. She published her first book in 2019 titled Women of the Military, sharing the stories of 28 military women. In 2019, she also launched her podcast also titled Women of the Military, she continues to share weekly podcast episodes sharing the stories of military women today. You can learn more about Amanda at her blog www.airmantomom.com.