Tsoniki Crazy Bull | Photo by Tsoniki Crazy Bull

Tsoniki Crazy Bull | Photo by Tsoniki Crazy Bull ()

“I think there is always good work to be done,” Tsoniki Crazy Bull, AFI MSOY Stuttgart Base winner.

Since 2008, Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) has honored military spouses all over the world and from each military branch with the Military Spouse of the Year (MSOY) award to recognize military spouse contributions and help within the military community and the U.S. Nominees compete at the base and branch levels for the ultimate honor, the overall Military Spouse of the year. In Germany, four military spouses won at the base level for USAG Rheinland-Pfalz, USAG Stuttgart, USAG Bavaria and Ramstein Air Base.

I had the pleasure of talking with Tsoniki, and she told me a little about herself and her platform.

Tsoniki has been a military spouse for over twenty years and has spent the past decade living overseas. She describes herself as “one of those military spouses that falls into that statistic of being overeducated and underemployed …. We have such a big problem with military spouse unemployment.” According to the 2021 Blue Star Families Survey, 20 percent of military spouses are unemployed and 63 percent are underemployed, and 41 percent of military families consider spouse un/underemployed to be a “top financial stressor” for the household.

As someone who has lived overseas for ten years, she identifies with the additional struggles of dealing with SOFA and working overseas. “You can work at the Exchange, the commissary, the school and the clinic. If your background or interests fall somewhere else, then you’re out of luck.” She added that, “the military is going to have to change; the military is going to have to do something to catch up,” with regards to retaining service members who have spouses that want or need to maintain a career.

Tsoniki noted that she has the “privilege” to turn to volunteerism to keep her skills in her field up to date. She has recently completed a Master’s in Nonprofit Administration and her volunteer positions aid her in learning more about that field.

Tsoniki currently serves as the President of the Stuttgart Community Spouses Club (SCSC), as well as co-leader of the AFRICOM Service member Family Readiness Group (SFRG) and in the past served as the President of the North American Women’s Association Ghana. However, some of her most influential work comes from a position without an official title: She works hard to advocate for Native American inclusion and awareness about Native people in modern society.

As of 2020, 0.727 percent of the total U.S. population serves (2,395,993 service members), according to Of those numbers, roughly 1.4 percent of the total U.S. population is Native with 1.7 percent of the armed forces consisting of Native people, according to the National Indian Council of Aging (NICOA). Native Americans serve at the highest rate per capita for the armed forces, according to Tsoniki and the NICOA.

She noted that “November is always the month that I am really busy because outside of my typical volunteering, I also do things that are really focused on Native Americans because [it is] Native American Heritage Month. (NAHM)” In November 2022, Tsoniki worked with the USO to have a viewing of the Netflix show, “Spirit Rangers,” and make corn husk dolls. She and I talked about Native American visibility in modern media and how, thankfully, her kids find it normal for shows and movies to be written by, starring and featuring Native people.

Tsoniki also worked with some of her friends during NAHM to have a day dedicated to having a Native speaker, jewelry, regalia, books and Indian tacos. Tsoniki proclaimed, “If you’ve never had Indian tacos, I highly encourage [you], the next time you are in Washington D.C., [to] stop by the National Museum of the American Indian….They have Indian tacos on their menu.”

One of the most important things to Tsoniki is sharing her Native culture with the military community. She wants to show that “we’re still here. Native people are not [just] in history books …. So much about Native people is taught from a historical perspective and not from a current perspective, when really we have thriving communities.”

She was inspired to volunteer because of her family’s background in giving back. She often tells people she was raised “in a family of service.” She continued by saying, “my grandparents really instilled that in my aunts, uncles and mom. And, by extension, it just filtered down to my generation. I hope I am passing it on to my kids.”

2023 is the first time Tsoniki has served as a Base Winner. You can read Tsoniki’s full profile on the AFI MSOY website here.

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