A Colorado Springs military spouse known for her work in suicide prevention was named the Air Force Spouse of the Year for 2018.
Kristen Christy - stationed at Peterson Air Force Base with husband Tech Sgt. Sean Lange - competed with over 800 Air Force spouses before being selected by Military Spouse, the magazine said in a release.
"I am honored beyond belief to be selected to represent the Air Force active duty and Reserve family and so very lucky to serve as a military spouse," Christy told the magazine.
The self-described "hard-charging self-starter" is no stranger to recognition - she was named a Woman of Influence in Colorado Springs in 2014.
Christy is a member of several committees, including the Military Affairs Council in Colorado Springs where she is acting vice chair.
While she serves her community, she also advocates for suicide prevention, an issue she has personal experience with.
Christy's first husband committed suicide after a 2004 deployment to Baghdad, where he oversaw transportation of killed servicemen and women. He brought that grief back with him, she said.
The loss of her first husband was not the only challenge Christy has faced in recent years. Her oldest son, Ryan - who will turn 25 in May - has been missing since Sept. 20, 2015, after he left home for Hawaii, she said.
But Christy has been navigating challenges since she was a teenager.
Born to a military family, Christy was a competitive tennis player and won a high school golf tournament for Defense Department students in Germany. Weeks later, she had a stroke, days before her 16th birthday.
It took her a year and a half to learn to walk again, she said. Now the only sign of her stroke is a silver streak in her hair that grew in after the incident.
She wears it as a proud reminder that "there is a silver lining to everything," she said.
Showing others that silver lining is what Christy hopes to do with the Air Force Spouse of the Year award.
"I want to use my hindsight as somebody else's foresight," she said.
On May 10, Military Spouse will announce the Military Spouse of the Year in Washington D.C.
Christy is already planning the next step.
"I would like to partner with my fellow branch winners," Christy said. "We are stronger as a team. . We would be able to cast our nets wider for advocacy. The award is for 2018, but we won't stop there. This is a momentum booster in the continuation of our journey."