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How this Navy wife is shining a light on mental health in military families: 'We are who we serve'

Jenny Lynne Stroup: 'If it was happening in my house, it was probably happening in somebody else's -- and somebody has to be the first one to talk about it'
Jenny Lynne Stroup and family
Posted at 1:33 PM, Mar 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-20 13:35:19-04

NORFOLK, Va. — Jenny Lynne Stroup is a Suffolk native, but she'll be the first to admit while she knew about the Navy, she didn't really have much interaction with it growing up.

All that changed when she met her now-husband.

"Matthew and I met the traditional Navy story: Sailor, bar, cute girl - the whole nine. We've been married for 13 years and have been coast to coast, North, South, East, West and are back here in Hampton Roads and really, really happy to be back."

Two kids and all those duty stations later, Stroup has now been recognized as the 2022 Armed Forces Insurance Naval Station Norfolk Military Spouse of the Year.

"Naval Station Norfolk is the largest naval base in the world, and so to be honored among people in the biggest Navy base in the world feels like an overwhelming honor," Stroup said.

Talk with her for just a few minutes and Stroup's passion for supporting military families and their mental health is evident.

"I figured if it was happening in my house, it was probably happening in somebody else's, and somebody has to be the first one to talk about it and so I did," she said.

Jenny Lynne Stroup

Stroup has turned it into a professional pursuit as well. Just as the pandemic began, she started a new role as outreach coordinator for the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Veterans Village of San Diego.

It's a job she's continued to do remotely ever since moving to Hampton Roads last year with her husband's Navy orders.

Heather Wilson is her counterpart at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at The UP Center in Virginia Beach.

"We are who we serve. Jenny Lynne is a military spouse, literally walks, talks and breathes, so who better to relate and collaborate with than someone who is a military spouse?" Wilson said.

"I am now some people's first call, they know that they can share with me the hard stuff that's going on in their house and know that I have been down the road of finding resources, like the Cohen Veterans Network that they can use for their family to get the help they need," Stroup said.

The many moves a military family experiences during service can create mental health hardships, especially for kids whose routines are disrupted and friends left behind.

The continuity of care offered by the Cohen Veterans Network, with clinics in military-concentrated areas, can help make those transitions smoother.

"Having it be a recognizable network and knowing that you're going to get that accessible, affordable, military competent care is, it's awesome," Stroup said. "We really are who we serve, and we are where you are."

You can learn more about Jenny Lynne's recognition here and about resources available from the Cohen Veterans Network here.