NEWPORT NEWS, Va. –
Virginia National Guard Family Programs presented awards and certificates of appreciation to their volunteers during the State Volunteer Recognition Workshop and Youth Symposium Aug. 14, 2022, in Newport News, Virginia.
During the ceremony, the National Guard Bureau Family Programs Region 3 Volunteer of the Year award was presented to April Fisher, a volunteer with the Suffolk-based Bravo Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Col. Matthew Gallegos, the Virginia Air National Guard director of staff, gave remarks during the ceremony. Gallegos said because of his previous deployments, he has a special appreciation for the work family support volunteers perform.
“When I was asked to come here today, it was a no-brainer,” said Gallegos. “‘Yes’ was the first word out of my mouth because I know how important each one of you and this family support program is, not only to the service members and families, but the Commonwealth of Virginia and our nation as a whole. As a service member myself, knowing, when I was deployed, I had to concentrate on the mission, I knew that the family support team back home was going to take care of my family. That helped me do my job overseas.
“Knowing I had a good family support program back home to support and take care of my family, was truly amazing,” added Gallegos. “Family Programs is near and dear to my heart.”
In addition to Fisher’s national-level award, four Family Programs volunteers were presented with state-level awards. Danielle Roche was named the Battalion Soldier and Family Readiness Group leader of the year. Jessica Mullins was named the Company SFRG leader of the year. Kim Settje was named SFRG Leader rookie of the year, and Brenda Gonzalez Barboza was named SFRG key communicator of the year.
Teresa Merritt, director of VNG Family Programs, and VNG unit leaders and representatives also presented certificates of appreciation to Family Readiness Group and Youth Programs volunteers from around the state for their hard work and dedication working with VNG families and youths, no small task during a year filled with overseas mobilizations.
“This has been a high-impact year for the state of Virginia. We’ve had numerous deployments,” said Gallegos. “You guys have stepped up, in my opinion. I’ve been in Virginia for a year, and just witnessing what I’ve seen the family support program accomplish with our service members and their families over the course of that year - it’s incredible.”
During the event, the gathered group also listened to presentations about Soldier and Family Readiness, Child and Youth Programs and the Yellow Ribbon Program, as well as other services available to Soldiers, Airmen and their families, including personal financial counselors and Military OneSource.
The ceremony was the second day of the two-day symposium. The first day included leadership and resiliency training for volunteers and a song writing workshop for youths.
“I’ve been affiliated with a couple of other states, but coming to Virginia, I’m just truly amazed at what goes on with this family support program, and the involvement there is and the participation,” said Gallegos, who previously served in Colorado and Wyoming. “I can’t thank each one of you enough for what you do. The volunteerism here is just amazing.”
To read more about VNG Family Programs, visit https://va.ng.mil/Programs-Resources/Family-Programs/.