Embracing a Healthy Family: Congratulations to the 2009 Military Family of the Year!

Congratulations to the 2009 Military Family of the Year!

Marine Corps Family Named 2009 Military Family of the Year

ALEXANDRIA, VA October 29, 2009—Military families were the stars of the show at the National Military Family Association’s 40th Anniversary Celebration where the Leanes family was named the Association’s 2009 Military Family of the Year. Seven families were recognized, one from each branch of the Uniformed Services, before awarding the Leanes family the top honor of the night. These families embrace their service to the Nation, are role models in their community, and understand that together they are stronger.

The families were presented their award by a high-ranking military leader in their branch of Service. General James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife presented the Military Family of the Year award to the Leanes family.

The Leanes Family
Dennis, Kristy, Jordan, Syvannah, Bethany, Marrisa, Emily, and Karianne are committed to serving their country, their community, and each other. Dennis’s commitment to serve his Nation is so strong that he and his family took a leap of faith in 2006 when he decided to leave his civilian job of eight years and reenlist in the Marine Corps. Though this meant taking a pay cut and uprooting the children, they dove in head first and never looked back.

The Leanes family is an integral part of the Camp Lejeune, North Carolina community. Not only do they volunteer at various organizations throughout the base, they’ve embedded volunteering into their daily lifestyle. When they are not running a Scout meeting, volunteering at church, coaching a sports team, or leading a Family Readiness meeting, they find time to reach out to their neighbors on a daily basis.

Kristy puts her abilities to good use by helping a neighbor with a broken down car (she can replace gaskets or install transmissions) or sewing baby clothes for a family in need. Following their parents’ example, the Leanes children reach out and serve their community, too. Jordan fixes broken bikes and donates them to charities. Syvannah organized a “Wounded Warrior Thank You Project” through her church. Bethany volunteers her babysitting services for spouses whose service members are deployed. The younger children bake cookies for various projects and are quick to share their “friendship bread” with neighbors.

This family has grown stronger each day by embracing the challenges of being a military family. Their children have learned that being strong and brave isn’t only about the troops in combat—it’s about overcoming a fear of the dark, standing up to peer pressure, or coping with the stress of having your dad deployed. This family strives to serve in every way possible.

The finalist families were:

Army Family of the Year
CSM Kevin Nolan and Family, Fort Riley, Kansas

Navy Family of the Year
LTJG Joshua Caldwell and Family, Kailua, Hawaii

Air Force Family of the Year
MSgt Wayne and TSgt Thane Ojala and Family, Las Vegas, Nevada

Coast Guard Family of the Year
BM1 Aaron Udland and Family, Juneau, Alaska

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Family of the Year
CDR Shepard Smith and Family, Norfolk, Virginia

Public Health Service Family of the Year
CDR Dana Hall and the Horesh Family, Overland Park, Kansas

About the National Military Family Association
Military families serve our country with pride, honor, and quiet dedication. The National Military Family Association is the leading nonprofit organization committed to strengthening and protecting the families of the men and women currently serving, retired, wounded or fallen. We provide families of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Commissioned Corps of the USPHS and NOAA with information, work to get them the benefits they deserve, and offer programs that improve their lives. Our 40 years of service and accomplishments have made us a trusted resource for military families and the Nation's leaders. To learn more, visit http://www.militaryfamily.org/.

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