November is Military Family Appreciation Month. We honor the sacrifices of our military Families. Army Families of active, guard, reserve, veterans, and retirees are giving back in a time of need and sustaining and supporting the Soldiers who defend our nation.
Last week I had the privilege to sit in on an interview with one family who exemplifies what it means to be an Army Strong Family.
Every year the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) recognizes an exceptional Army family whose dedicated volunteer service significantly contributes to improving the well-being of Army families and the local community. This year the Army Volunteer Family of the Year was awarded to MSG Evalani Faniel and Family of Fort Lee, Virginia.
MSG Faniel and her husband, Dewey spoke with reporters and bloggers about her award and her motivation for volunteering and giving back the way her and her family does.
In November 2008, the Faniel’s oldest son, Maurice was diagnosed with leukemia. While spending months on end in the hospital with her son, MSG Faniel talked about how great the military families in the community were to her and her family. “Anything we needed, they were there to provide for us,” Faniel said. “They would cook for our family. And when I say cook, it would be a spread of food every single night.” She goes on to say how the community would assist in transporting her other three children back and forth from school and daycare when Mr. Faniel had to work long hours and she was at the hospital.
Maurice passed away in March of 2009. It was after all of the love and support from the Ft. Lee community, from the Commanding Officer to the Soldiers and families, that MSG Faniel realized she had to do something. “Everyone says “Thank you” is enough, but it just didn’t see like enough for me.”
The Faniel Family started the Volunteer Service Memorial Scholarship, in memory of their son. The scholarship recognizes athletes with a record of volunteer service. Understandably close to MSG Faniels’s heart is her volunteer work with various cancer associations. These activities include organizing and walking with local teams such as Relay for Life and the Susan G. Komen Walk-A-Thon. For her volunteer efforts, MSG Faniel has received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Order of Saint Martin, and numerous Certificates of Appreciation from many organizations.
As I reflect on MSG Faniel’s story and truly begin to realize her accomplishments, her and her family are definitely a true reason as to why we should honor military families this month and every day of the year. So make it your business to not only thank a Soldier this month, but thank his/her Family as well for their sacrifices and service.
Army Families are Army Strong.