The Bayonet

Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2014

Fort Benning recognizes volunteers for service

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Fort Benning community volunteers and supporters gathered April 15 for the annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony in the Derby Auditorium due to inclement weather.

The ceremony celebrated and recognized volunteers who contributed their time to serve the Fort Benning community in 2013.

Awards were presented by the commanding general, Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster and the Maneuver Center of Excellence Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Guden.

"(The trophy represents) that volunteers are more precious than diamonds," said Starla De Saussure, Fort Benning's Army Volunteer Corps program manager.

Host, Katie McMaster, wife of the commanding general, said volunteer devotion provides strength within the Army.

"Today is a great day for Fort Benning and our Army because we get to recognize the best of the best; our volunteers who enrich our lives every day," Katie McMaster said. "We all know our volunteers are the backbone of the Army and it is their work and dedication that ensures our Families are Army strong."

De Saussure presented a symbolic check of $2.2 million to Fort Benning's leadership.

"This check reflects over 101,468 hours of time Fort Benning volunteers have given to the community," said Steve Thiele, master of ceremony. "Each volunteer hour served on Fort Benning in 2013 is valued at $22.55."

When hearing about the hours that have been contributed, it becomes "awe inspiring; it is humbling," Guden said. "Knowing that you get to thank everyone of these individuals that comes up here is pretty rewarding."

Katie McMaster said what the volunteers contributed in 2013 went beyond the numbers.

"While that dollar value may surprise you, what our volunteers have contributed to our great community is far greater than any number," Katie McMaster said. De Saussure said, 89 individuals and organizations - double the amount of last year - were presented with awards.

Categories included Volunteer of Excellence, Family Readiness Group of Excellence, Retiree Volunteers of Excellence, Units of Excellence, Volunteer Families of Excellence, Youth Volunteers of Excellence and Volunteer Organization of Excellence, in addition to other individual awards.

The retiree volunteer of the year, Sam Rhodes, and volunteer of the year, Lynda Morgan, for Fort Benning received a trophy, certificate of appreciation from McMaster and Guden, a special gift package that includes $100 worth of gift cards for the commissary and $50 Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift card, a gift certificate for a weekend in Destin, Fla., with a harbor cruise and a designated parking space at the Post Exchange.

A seven-year volunteer for the Fort Benning community, Morgan said she did not expect to be recognized as volunteer of the year. There are so many other great volunteers, she said.

"I love what I do," Morgan said. "I am all about military Families." In addition to the individual awards, the Crapo Family received the volunteer Family of the year award.

The Crapo Family will represent the Chattahoochee Valley Fort Benning chapter of the Association of the United States Army as the Fort Benning Family of the year and go on to compete in its national competition. AUSA representatives will also present the family with a check for $1,000.

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