Don’t be alarmed if Amanda Elliott has a few cardboard boxes tucked away in the basement of her Haddonfield, New Jersey, home.
Moving has been part of the routine for Amanda and Brian Elliott. Philadelphia is now their third stop in the past 20 months after Brian was traded from the Blues to the Flames before signing with the Flyers over the summer.
“I don’t know if I mind that because I have that military mode," Amanda said. "So I'm used to moving every couple of years, especially since I know hockey is not forever. I know I’ll find someone I get along with and everyone’s been really nice.”
Around the same time Amanda met Brian at the University of Wisconsin, she enrolled in the university’s ROTC program, and not long after graduating, she enlisted as an intelligence officer in the United States Air Force in 2007.
“I watched a lot of war movies with my dad growing up,” Amanda said. “My brother was enlisted in the Air Force. I had a grandfather who was in World War II and served in India and Africa. My parents have always been in public service. My dad’s a teacher, my mom’s a social worker. They gave me that desire to see more of the world. Do something greater than yourself. It was always something that appealed to me.”
Amanda was stationed in West Texas on Oct. 10, 2007, when Brian made his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators in Atlanta, and for the proceeding years, they had to find different ways to communicate and share those interpersonal moments.
In 2009, Amanda was deployed to Qatar, and the following year, she was stationed in the sovereign nation of Kyrgyzstan.
Brian was in charge of stopping pucks for the Senators, while Amanda was assigned tactical level intelligence working with squadrons and aircrew. Her primary duties involved handling pre- and post-mission briefings and security threats for pilots of refueling tankers — most notably the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker.
“I saw it when she was on deployments and they don’t get a chance to write or Skype on a daily basis because they’re busy and time changes,” Brian said. “You think about the sacrifices those people have to make.
“One of her friends gave birth and a few weeks later, she was overseas and serving her deployment and away from a newborn child. You think about those things and it puts life into perspective a little bit.”
As painful as the separation must have been for a military mother and her newborn child, it also gave birth to an idea. In 2007, while stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, founder LeAnn Morrissey started “Operation Shower” — a nonprofit geared toward hosting baby showers for military members who can’t be with family, friends and loved ones while on deployment.
“It’s an awesome organization. They do about 15 showers a year nationwide,” said Amanda, who brought Operation Shower to St. Louis in 2015. “The moms and families end up walking out of there with $1,000 in value. Brand-new stuff. All the products are donated, so it’s pretty cool.
“That was a big deal and the girls in St. Louis are still continuing that,” Brian said. “So I’m really proud of her for starting that there.”
Now that Amanda is part of the South Jersey community, she’s looking to bring Operation Shower to the Delaware Valley, in conjunction with military personnel from Fort Dix-McGuire Air Force base and the Pennsylvania National Guard.
“It takes about three months to plan everything," Amanda said. "We’re excited about it. We’re looking at April for our first shower.”
For more information on Operation Shower, you can visit operationshower.org.
Get to know Amanda Elliott's favorites
Military movies: Saving Private Ryan, Zero Dark Thirty
Military book: Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
Military heroes: Col. Jim Warnke, WASP (Women Air Force Service Pilots)