Deserving Mother Will Win $5,000
SAN ANTONIO –Operation Homefront announces five finalists for the third annual 2010 Lockheed Martin Military Motherhood Award; Sgt. Sophia Malone of Huntsville, Ala., Eva Marie Briseno of Manassas, Va., Tracy Curran of Fort Bragg, N.C., Robin Schoolfield of Sneads Ferry, N.C., and Misty Gersley of Temecula ,Calif.
“The price of peace is paid by the entire military family,” said Jim Knotts, chief executive officer, Operation Homefront. “These five finalists are amazing military moms, representative of the thousands of military moms who often are the foundation on which the family is built. We all recognize the sacrifices by our service members, but it also important to recognize our military moms who are women in uniform and spouses. With this award, we honor their special service and sacrifice.”
Operation Homefront confers the award, which recognizes the service and sacrifices of military moms. It was originated in conjunction with Lockheed Martin, a long-standing partner and supporter of military families. The Lockheed Martin Military Mother Award complements the Lockheed Martin Military Child Award, conferred each April by Operation Homefront.
The top five finalists were selected from a field of almost 600 exceptional mothers, and derived from national public review and input to help choose the top five finalists. The top five finalists are posted at www.operationhomefront.net.
A distinguished panel of judges including sponsors, Operation Homefront national staff and other experienced military mothers will select the national winner from the top five nominees. The winner of the $5,000 cash award and trip to Washington, D.C., will be announced on April 19, 2010.
# # #
The five finalists and their nominations included:
Sophia Malone, Huntsville, Ala.
As a writer for the Redstone Rocket, I meet and interview several military heroes every year. But I've never met a hero like Sgt. Sophia Malone, who has served with both the active Army and the National Guard. Sgt. Malone is a dedicated mom and soldier who comes from a long line of decorated veterans. She has worked very hard to balance the demands of working with her ex-husband to raise their three children while at the same time serving her country during various deployments with the Alabama Army National Guard's 128th Military Police Co. In 2006-07, her Guard unit deployed to Iraq. It was a volatile time, but Sgt. Malone led her soldiers with strength and determination. She suffered two IED attacks, one that caused her permanent neck and back problems. Since returning from Iraq, she has been working to bring her family back together and getting herself back to 100 percent health. As she mends, she has remained on active duty with Redstone Arsenal's Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit and is assigned to the Space and Missile Defense Command. She hopes to return to National Guard status and continue her duties with SMDC as a civilian employee. This Purple Heart recipient is very deserving of the Military Motherhood Award. She continues to face tremendous family challenges to wear the uniform. Not only is she a mom to her children, but she is also a mom to the many male and female soldiers in her Guard unit. She brushes aside her war injuries and wants to be treated like any other soldier. No matter what, she plans to continue to serve in uniform for the country she loves.
Eva Marie Briseno, Manassas, Va.
Seven years ago, Jay was a 20-year-old Army Reservist who was called up to active duty was happy to serve his country in the Iraq War. Until late June of 2003, when Jay’s life was changed by a single bullet, to the back of his neck. An Iraqi bystander shot my son, and that single bullet severed Jay’s spinal cord. As a result, Jay suffered two cardiac arrests, which cut off his oxygen supply. Because of this, he sustained an unknown amount of anoxic brain injury. It would be impossible for Jay to live independently with his injuries. My wife has transformed our family room into an intensive care unit for Jay. This is where we have spent our days and nights for the last seven years, watching over Jay’s breathing, vital signs and the multitude of tubes, wires and monitors that labor to keep our son alive. Jay requires 24-hour-a-day nursing care, and his mother sleeps, eats, prays, and lives at his bedside, caring for him around the clock and turns him 12 times a day, every day, so that he won’t have bedsores. My wife gives up her full-time job and becomes a fulltime caregiver for Jay. In the morning, she provides bowel care for our son, which takes two hours of work. Subsequently she will do tracheotomy care, wound care and morning care. Then we render the nebulizer breathing treatment which consists of chest/back physical therapy, suctioning fluid out of his lungs and limbs’ range of motions. And when we kiss him good night, we will hold him a little tighter, a little longer. It is then that we will thank God for our Jay and ask Him for nothing except one more day.
Tracy Curran, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Tracy is a deserving recipient of the Military Motherhood Award. Over the last 17 years as an Army spouse, Tracy routinely sacrifices her time for everyone else. With my frequent absence due to deployments, TDYs and training, Tracy manages to raise our two sons, Joshua (10) and Jakob (13). Jakob has cerebral palsy and autism, making the parenting job that much more difficult; however, Tracy has risen to the task. Medical and therapy appointments take up a majority of her time. Weekends are spent at the movies, as Jakob has fixated on them and needs to see new releases opening weekend. Joshua needs his time as well, and Tracy manages to find time to make him feel special and loved. Tracy stepped up as the assistant FRG leader for my unit. She felt it was important that the spouses of deployed troops had somewhere they could go for information regarding military life and deployment issues. Tracy knew the isolation and void left behind when a unit does not have an FRG; the total lack of information can be frightening. As a dedicated mother/volunteer, Tracy has given countless hours ensuring our children have what they need to succeed. She has served on PTA boards for the past nine years. There was a time she was on the executive board of three PTAs, even though we only have two children. When Joshua changed schools mid-year, she felt she had an obligation to continue to fulfill her commitment to the board at his former school until the school year ended. Tracy also volunteers for numerous organizations and has now taken on a part-time job. She always puts our family first. With her endless supply of enthusiasm and energy, she not only devotes her life to our family, but our community family too.
Misty Gersley, Temecula , Calif.
Supportive and committed wife and mother. Published author. CEO of her own successful, self-started literary magazine and publishing company. Misty Gersely is truly an exceptional woman who has dedicated her life to achievement and exemplifying the values of a Marine Corps family. She is active in her children’s upbringing, clocking over 200 hours volunteering for Family Readiness, NJROTC, PTA, Boy Scouts and other school-related activities. When she isn’t working towards her pilot’s license, she is volunteering at the Red Cross or the Temecula Citizens Corps. Her husband Shane has been deployed for 180-plus days eight times, six of those to direct combat zones. It is during these times that Misty rises to leadership, not only supporting her husband and running a household of three boys, but also through working with other military wives to maintain a healthy and strong support network. Misty is a source of inspiration and courage for the military community showing that one can successfully run a household and a business while sending her husband much-needed love and support as he fights for freedom, for the continued safety of the U.S., and for the principles of democracy. Her eldest son, Jacob Gersley, is in the ROTC program at his high school and is in category 3 for the EFMP. He is motivated by his parents’ commitment to the Marine Corps values and is following in their footsteps. Misty never complains about the life of a military wife. Instead, she has risen above all obstacles to create a positive and powerful home environment that allows her children and husband to thrive. She is a leader and a recognized role model in her community, demonstrating that hard work, integrity and a courageous attitude will lead to the successful actualization of personal and professional potential.
Robin Schoolfield, Sneads Ferry, N.C.
Robin Schoolfield is a 35-year-old Marine Corps wife, mother and worker who has given over the last 14 years to her family, the Marine Corps and the families of Marines deployed. Robin has endured nine PCS moves and five deployments of her husband, Maj. Sam Schoolfield, to the Pacific, Iraq and currently Afghanistan. Their children are Sam, 11, Jack, 10, Abe, 7, and Scarlett, 6. Scarlett was adopted from Russia, which was a costly and enduring event that lasted over 18 months and two trips to Russia. Scarlett is a special-needs child. Jack is also an EFMP family member and both have progressed through much effort and love from Robin and family. Robin is an exceptional woman and Marine wife. She is an athlete who has competed in several marathons over the past several years. She has continued her education and has recently earned a master’s degree. She has expanded her breadth of support for the Marine families by becoming a family readiness officer (FRO) and serving at squadron and wing level supporting the Marines and families of deployed Marines. Robin and her sister prepared for over a year and went to Sierra Leone, Africa, for two weeks with a church group that assists an orphanage. She is also enrolled in civilian flight training to become a pilot. Robin’s days are filled with Marine Corps FRO work, EFMP extra assistance time, and Cub and Boy Scout activities. She shows the boys how to throw a cast net, catch fish and shrimp, pour plaster molds of animal footprints for scouts, plan and conduct birthday parties, get two cars serviced, work with church groups to assist church and Marine members, birth a family of boxer dogs, and just keeping her head above water while Daddy is gone.
About Operation Homefront:
Operation Homefront provides emergency assistance for our troops, the families they leave behind and for wounded warriors when they return home. A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers in 23 chapters nationwide, and has met more than 257,000 needs since 2002. A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally, $.95 of every dollar donated to Operation Homefront goes to programs.
About Lockheed Martin:
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin
is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion.