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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | May 10, 2024

Paying it forward: Kaitlyn Rolli shares her journey as a military spouse

By Senior Airman Daekwon Stith 316th Wing

Starting a family can come with many challenges. For Kaitlyn Rolli, being a newlywed, pregnant with her first child, and moving away from friends and relatives while her spouse received deployment orders was an overwhelming reality.  

"We were expecting our first within our first year of marriage," Kaitlyn recalls about their time stationed at Minot Air Force Base. "I literally gave birth alone for the first time," she added, describing the feeling of being unexpectedly thrown into the military spouse role. 

As a military spouse for a decade now, Kaitlyn has navigated the highs and lows of military life with resilience and determination. Her journey began when she joined her husband at Minot, where she experienced firsthand the importance of a strong support system.  

“I knew nothing about the military. I knew nothing about military life. At most, I knew that you would hand your ID at the gate,” said Kaitlyn jokingly about her first memories as a military spouse. 

As other spouses often describe similar feelings when marrying into the military, she highlighted the importance of having a support system and how other spouses helped her adjust to this new lifestyle. 

“If it weren't for the people that supported me in the beginning, I don't think I would have made it to where I am today because in my first six months as a military spouse, my husband got his first deployment orders.” 

Looking back on it, this was a pivotal moment for Kaitlyn. Being surrounded and cared for by a core group of key spouses in Minot was transformative. They took her under their wing and 'showed her the ropes,' as she put it, which really changed her perspective. “I was like, oh my god, I love this. Everybody needs this type of support!' 

Inspired by the assistance she received during those challenging times, Kaitlyn became a Key Support Liaison to ensure that all military families feel supported and welcomed. 

As a Key Support Liaison, Kaitlyn has served various units, including the 5th Civil Engineer Squadron, 820th Red Horse Squadron, and now the 316th Civil Engineer Squadron. Her commitment to the military community extends beyond her duties as a Key Support Liaison. Kaitlyn is also a member of the 316th Wing Resident Community Council and a Quality of Life Advocate at Joint Base Andrews. With a "no is not an option" attitude, Kaitlyn dedicates much of her time to community initiatives, always striving to make a difference. 

Despite her busy schedule, Kaitlyn finds joy in organizing events that bring the military community together. From the Egg Hunt with the Bunny to the annual 316th Mission Support Group Trunk or Treat and the base holiday parade, she orchestrates memorable experiences for families stationed at Joint Base Andrews. Kaitlyn and her family also sponsor three midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy, providing them a home away from home. 

Sponsoring Airmen at previous bases was not new to Kaitlyn and her family. So, when they arrived at JBA and found themselves without Airmen to sponsor, it sparked the idea of sponsoring midshipmen. “This is a really cool opportunity. We can see what the Navy is like,” Kaitlyn explained. 

"At the Naval Academy, you have to eat in the dining hall," Kaitlyn explained, reflecting on one of her favorite ways to support the midshipmen. "But on their birthdays, I always ask them what they want to eat. I let them pick any restaurant," she added with a smile. "I remember asking one of our midshipmen, Rex, what he wanted, and he mentioned a chicken dish I had made before.” 

Laughing, she shared how heartwarming it felt that he wanted that specific meal. “My husband was like Kaitlyn, your face lit up like a kid on Christmas when somebody asks for your home cooking.” 

Whether offering them a place to nap when they're not at the shipyard, inviting them over for holidays, or even making sure their birthday meal isn’t just from the dining hall, Kaitlyn and her family strive to make them feel welcomed. 

Kaitlyn's dedication to serving others extends to her professional life as well. Working in Finance for the Air Force, she deepens her connections within the military community, leveraging her passion for helping others to make a difference wherever she goes. 

As Kaitlyn reflects on her journey as a military spouse, she emphasizes remaining grateful for the support she has received and is inspired to pay it forward to others in need. “It’s one big family,” she shared about her experience as a spouse in the military.  

“Even if you feel like you don't have the support of the military, at the end of the day, there's always going to be somebody, and all you have to do is ask.”