Military Spouses Appreciation Month: Our Scholars Recognize Their Biggest Supporters

Blog, Military Appreciation Month, Military Appreciation Month | 05/12/2023

The Pat Tillman Foundation supports veterans, active duty service members, and military spouses; nearly 20% of our Tillman Scholar community are military spouses who are making an impact across the globe. In honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day, we talked to some of our Tillman Scholars about the support and love that their spouses provided while heading off to serve.

Jay Vinnedge: Air Force, 2016 Tillman Scholar

“Danielle and I have been together for 16 years. While I have been in the military 14 years and counting, three deployments, countless nights away, she has thrived in a lifestyle she never asked for. After 10 years of marriage, medical training, and many bumps in the road, her support for me means a strong marriage–allowing us to achieve any dream we set our minds to.”

Christina Ebersohl: Army, 2022 Tillman Scholar

“My husband Lenny is also a Veteran. He is a small business owner and my number TWO fan (my dad has solid claim to the number one slot….). My husband is my best friend and my favorite person in this world. He encourages my goofiness, he challenges my opinions, and he always makes me laugh even when I’m absolutely broken. He is truly one of the best men I know and I’m so thankful he is in my world!”

Jayme Hentig: Army, 2020 Tillman Scholar

“Laura has been my rock through so much. Through the ups and downs of my PhD, through moving across the country, to helping me daily deal with my injuries… She is my protector, my caregiver, and my best friend. Through all of this she has continued to challenge herself, going to school, working full time, and continuing to support me as well. She literally is Wonder Woman. I love you Laura and I couldn’t be more proud to walk side by side with you. Thank you for being you.”

“My husband, Matt Balog, and I married in 2008 just ahead of my deployment during Operation Enduring Freedom. At the time, Matt was in nursing school and I had just completed my Master’s in occupational therapy. Matt served in the Army’s 101st Airborne from 1995 to 2001 as a Black Hawk helicopter crew chief with deployments to Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo amongst many others. When I met him in 2002, he had not expected to become a military spouse after honorably serving in the military himself for six years.

Matt taught me so much about military life before I left for basic training and technical school. He supported and loved me every step of the way with letters, cards, visits and a genuine understanding of what I was experiencing. When I deployed in 2008 he was a tremendous support to me especially as I dealt with difficult situations overseas. He has been my truest partner, his love has never waivered. After my service, we brought two beautiful children into our world and together we know we can face any challenge. He is the love of my life and the sunshine in my soul.”

Luis Martinez: Marine Corps, 2020 Tillman Scholar

“My wife and I met while serving on active duty in the Marine Corps. She is my best friend and greatest supporter. Her support and belief in me are why I’m able to pursue my academic and professional goals. While I pursue my Ph.D. she has taken care of things at home so I can focus on research. Without her, I would not have the successes I have today.”

Catherine Paris: Coast Guard, 2022 Tillman Scholar

Shouting out my husband, Casey. We made the decision (after saying we would NEVER separate at the same time) to separate from active duty just three months apart. Primary driver for this decision was my career change. We moved nearly across the country, sold and bought new homes, and made the transition into the Reserve and two new careers all within a 9 month time frame. I’m forever grateful for his love and support as we have navigated the immense changes and the chaos of parenthood as it comes with one of us going back to school full time…for the next ~decade. Love you babe!

Dan Futrell: Army, 2011 Tillman Scholar

Finally, PTF CEO and 2011 Tillman Scholar, Dan Futrell shared his gratitude for our military spouse community: