Determination and hard work led Kristina Kaufmann from high school in New Rochelle, New York, to a gymnastics scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley. The same qualities informed her life as an Army spouse during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, inspiring her, along with Major General Alan Salisbury, USA, (Ret.), to build the Code of Support Foundation in 2011, a tech-forward nonprofit that helps military and veteran families navigate a complex system of support. Today she brings the same skills, drive, and ardent service ethic to her new role as Chief Executive Officer of Brighton Marine, Inc.
During a time of intensely difficult combat deployments for many service members, Kristy, like many military spouses, took on demanding volunteer responsibilities. At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma, she served as a Family Readiness Group leader and participated in traditional military-spouse activities. But with rising rates of traumatic brain injury, suicide, combat stress, and family-relationship issues, she wanted more to be done to help service members, veterans, and their families. In 2009, the Washington Post published her article, “Army Families Under Fire.”
The points she raised in that piece included the need for the Army to fund its mandated Family Readiness Group directly, for Army directors to be willing to ask and listen, and for leadership at the unit level to step up and fulfill obligations for providing basic family support. “Our military families deserve better,” she wrote.
Kristy’s article touched a national nerve and brought recognition to deeply important issues. She was asked by the White House, the Pentagon, and Congress to provide additional insights about the mental health impact of war and repeated deployments on families. Working with the Code of Support Foundation, she parlayed her knowledge and strengths into practical support for the military community and those who serve it.
At Brighton Marine, Kristy will nurture and grow the organization’s existing services to make sure that at-risk veterans and their families have a home and the wraparound support they need. She plans to dive deeply into identifying the most important needs of today’s military community and tackle them head on. She plans to foster the public-private partnerships that are key to meeting those needs.
“Coming to Brighton Marine and taking on Colonel Hawes’s tradition of facilitating quality care for military families is truly compelling to me,” she says. “Serving our community has always filled me with purpose, and the opportunity to scale impact in the region was a challenge I couldn’t pass up.”