Christi’s calling: extending the mission through connection

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Trenton Jancze
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Keeping the mission going comes at a high cost for Airmen and their families, which can be both mentally and physically exhausting. So, when Airmen are working late and dedicating their time to support the mission, who is there to support their spouses and families?

Christi Roberts, 97th Air Mobility Wing key spouse and wife of Col. Daniel Roberts, 97th Medical Group commander, is somebody that Airmen’s families can rely on for help and support. As the key spouse for the 97th MDG, Christi supports Air Force families by creating a culture of belonging, communicating base resources and events, and bolsters the sense of community throughout Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

Christi has been able to use her professional career to better assist in her role as a key spouse.

“I started my career as a corporate relocation specialist in Nashville, Tennessee,” she said. “I would sell corporations on why they should consider moving to Nashville, and after selling them the city, the job wasn’t done. I would then have to match their employees with real estate agents based upon their interests.”

Christi used her interpersonal skills to get to know the employees and their families in order to set them up with the right resources to make the transition easier.

After years of living and working in Nashville, Christi married Daniel and moved to Washington D.C., where he worked at the Pentagon. For Christi there was a sense of disconnect while stationed there.

“We had our first child there, and we had no family support in the immediate area,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to stay home. I still felt like something was missing though. There has to be somebody, somewhere or some sort of program that gets families involved and spouses connected.”

When the Roberts family moved to San Antonio, Texas, Christi immediately went to the Military Family Readiness Center to volunteer.

“There they had a relocation department, and I was like ‘that’s my specialty,’” she said. “I was able to share my knowledge and experience, and help get military families relocated more comfortably.”

When Daniel became squadron commander, he asked if there were any spouses in the unit that would like to be a part of the Key Spouse Program; Christi stepped up to the plate right away.

“I ended up doing some training with the Key Spouse Program and immediately I thought ‘this is me, this is my fit,’” she said. “We also had our second child and I started working for another relocation company.”

Christi continued to develop her skills as a key spouse, wife, mother, and relocation specialist. After developing a part of the relocation business that grew exponentially during her tenure, the call came for Daniel to change duty stations.

The Roberts family moved on to Tyndall AFB in Florida and Hickam AFB in Hawaii following their time in Texas. While at Hickam, Daniel started to travel more often across the Pacific, away from Christi and the kids.

“It was hard at times,” she said. “Daniel would come back from a TDY and change things, because he was like ‘wait, were we not doing this?’ I really felt bad for him at times because it was hard for him to reintegrate back to family life; he was off island more than he was on island. So how do we stay positive, with him coming and going so often, how do you keep the kids positive? Well, you build a village.”

Christi emphasized the importance of building your “village,” your support network.

“I could not tell you how many spouses I have told, ‘You just have to introduce yourself, build those connections, and keep up with them,’” she said. “You never know when you are going to need somebody, and it’s when you need somebody the most and you don’t have them that the panic begins.”

After her first experience as a military spouse in Washington D.C., Christi continued to use her professional career as a way to build resilience alongside her peers.

“Your village helps you in so many ways,” she said. “It helps me be a mom, be a spouse, and most importantly helps me, be me. Raising kids and being a military spouse can be so stressful, so it’s important to stay healthy, exercise and eat right.”

There can be a lot of travel involved throughout a military career, which can cause stress for any family. According to Christi, her family is no exception, but it helps that her children support living the “military lifestyle.”

“Everywhere we live, we try to travel and get the kids exposed,” she said. “We do our very best at visiting family and thank goodness for technology.”

Overcoming challenges is a constant in every military family’s life, whether it’s the move across the country or not knowing anyone when you get there. Fortunately, there are volunteers like Christi across the Air Force to help Airmen and their families so that the mission can continue.

“(The spouses) would love nothing more than to be able to help every Airman and their family get settled and connected,” said Christi. “The sooner we can make it happen, the sooner the Airmen can get comfortable, and the sooner the mission can keep moving forward.”

Christi was in the relocation industry for almost 10 years before she married Daniel and moved herself. After years of constant travel, multiple jobs and volunteering with key spouse programs, she can be a rock for not only her family and friends, but for any military family in need of help.

“Words don’t really do it justice,” said Daniel. “She is the cement that holds our family together. She has this incredible ability to orchestrate all the craziness that is mom life, professional life, and spouse life all with grace. She cares for our Airmen as family, and has always been my teammate in our Air Force adventure.”

Christi is a connection among her family, her friends, and Airmen and their families. Her mission to connect and help people has been a lifelong one, building resilience in her own family and the families she connects with along the way.

“I feel like it is a part of my calling because I love what I do,” she said. “It’s just an extension of the mission.”