Spouse wins AMC Joan Orr Award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Armando A. Schwier-Morales
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Spouses of military members are asked to overcome many obstacles including deployment separation, acting as a single parent for months at a time and coping with the possibility of their loved one not returning home.

Yet amidst separations and worries, many spouses still find time to serve others and give back, not only to their installation, but also to their community.

For these sacrifices and many others, the Air Force Association annually honors a non-military spouse who has made a significant contribution with the Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year Award. In 2011, a McConnell spouse won at the Air Mobility Command level.

Amanda Chastain, a nationally recognized Girl Scout leader and wife of Purple Heart recipient, Staff Sgt. Beau Chastain, 22nd Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, will represent AMC at the Air Force-wide competition.

What friends and family call her "volunteering spirit," began during her years as a Girl Scout.

"Even as a little girl, at the end of the day if I couldn't name one thing that I felt good about, I would feel down and disappointed," said Chastain.

Today, Chastain continues her work alongside the community with the Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland operating from Wichita, Kan. One of her accomplishments was spearheading the Birthday in a Bag initiative which gives families in need the ability to celebrate a birthday. The program has more than 600 participating troops in all 50 states.

"Amanda has been a great asset to our council," said Cat Poland, Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland director of communications. "She truly embodies what a Girl Scout troop leader should be."

On base, Chastain is the vice president of McConnell's Enlisted Spouses Club, with more than 1,000 members. Recently, the ESC provided more than $4,500 in groceries for junior enlisted families during the holiday season. She supported more than 55 families in her squadron as a key spouse by investing her time to make personal calls and visits while the family's service member was deployed.

"It is a real blessing to have Amanda and her family here at McConnell," said Lt. Col. Jason Loschinskey, 22nd CES commander. "She has an amazing amount of energy, patience and genuine concern for all of the families, both in the civil engineer squadron and Team McConnell as a whole. Amanda does a phenomenal job applying the experiences she has had to help others and support our community. We are proud to have her as a key spouse for our squadron."

Due to her husband's deployments, Mrs. Chastain has had to assume the role of caretaker four times; yet she said the latest one seemed different than the rest.

"I had this feeling in my stomach the entire time he was gone, and now we know why," said Chastain.

Her husband, while on patrol, came under enemy fire and was shot and wounded in the leg.

"When I found out it was just a gunshot wound, I was relieved because in his career field our worst fear is an improvised explosive device," she said. "There are many people still in the hospital that are double or triple amputees from IEDs. It's all about perspective."

Chastain credits her positive outlook and her desire to help others as ways she to copes with her husband's deployment and injuries.

"Volunteering was a good coping mechanism because I stayed busy and focus on the positive things," she said. "I always encourage spouses to come out and volunteer, to focus on somebody else other than yourself, and it will help get your mind off things."

Chastain plans to continue her involvement with McConnell, working closely with the Girl Scouts and branching out to the Boy Scouts with her son. All the while, she will continue supporting her husband as he recovers from his injury.