BRUSSELS -- The husband of the commander of Allied Forces North (AFNorth) Battalion at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers of Europe at Casteau, Belgium recently became the Adjutant General’s Corps Spouse of the Year.Eric Gardner, who is married to Lt. Col. Gretchen Gardner, AFNorth commander, distinguished himself through his volunteerism, commitment to his home communities, and his philanthropic efforts, according to his award endorsement packet.He volunteers in the schools his children have attended, he works in the AFNorth Battalion Soldier and Family Readiness Group, he volunteers with the Girl Scouts, writes a blog about being a military spouse from the male perspective, and he is also the author of the XIII Legion, a supernatural fiction series. His latest writing project, Origins of Honor, is a collaboration with 15 other authors to support a veteran charity.Gardner is also a veteran who transitioned out of service to be a stay-at-home father to his two daughters.“I think I’m fairly normal as a military spouse, in that I wear many hats,” he said.He and his future wife were both part of the Reserve Officer Training Program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Both of their Families lived in northern Virginia, so they carpooled home together and began dating during Eric’s senior year.Lt. Col. Gardner, who submitted the initial letter of endorsement, outlined some of her husband’s achievements for the Adjutant General's Corps Regimental Association, the military nonprofit organization that serves as the AG Corps’ professional association.“I’m so proud of him!” she said.The Gardner Family moves often, Lt. Col. Gardner counting 11 permanent changes of station during her more than 20 years of active-duty service. Their previous duty station was Fort Meade, Maryland, which they were at for only 10 months. Their Family has been at SHAPE now for one of two scheduled years.“It can be hard to make a really meaningful impact when you are stationed at places for such a short period of time,” Lt. Col. Gardner said.She believes, however, that her and her husband have become adept at “getting a household set up and jumping right into whatever unit, challenge or adventure the Army throws us into.”“It is always difficult to stay connected with the friends you make along the way,” said Eric of the many changes of station their Family has made. “Social media has helped, but this lifestyle moves very fast. It’s not an exaggeration to say that as soon as you begin to catch your breath from finishing a PCS, it’s time to move again. There’s always an adventure right around the corner.”Nevertheless, he has found meeting so many people and experiencing so much travel an enormous advantage of Army life.“Each of our assignments has allowed us to meet so many Soldiers and Families who have a common ideology: They all feel as though they are part of something larger than themselves,” he said. “We’ve met service members and Families who joined the service from all walks of life. It’s fascinating to hear all the life stories and see how everyone embraces the concept of this collective military Family that stretches across the globe.“Enjoy the experiences,” continued Gardner, on what he could offer other military spouses. “Life is hectic, and there are terrific demands placed on each of us. That doesn’t mean that we should only focus on the challenges ahead. Planning on what’s to come is great, but not if you need to sacrifice smelling the flowers around you. Oftentimes we forget to pause and take in the moment.”