Association Honors Supporters at Leadership Luncheon

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2008 - Organizations that lend their support to military families were given their due here today during the National Military Family Association's annual Leadership Luncheon.

The National Military Family Association supports military families through efforts designed to enhance opportunities and resources available to the military community. The organization also supports America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

The organizations and individuals honored were recognized for their exemplary support of the military community. Perhaps more importantly, the keynote speaker pointed out, they support military families, who in many ways have tougher jobs than servicemembers.

"I know how it is for myself, (and) I know how it is for people close to me (regarding deployments)," said Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. "You spend a lot of sleepless nights thinking about the task that you have in front of you, but that goes away for the GI as soon as you kiss everyone goodbye and walk aboard the aircraft."

For deploying servicemembers, life simplifies during a deployment. They do what they're trained to do, Hayden said.

"It does not become more simple for the family members left behind, because they are not in that location with you," he said. "They are not in that support structure that you now find yourself in.

"It's the service of family members to our nation that's as important as the service of every man and woman on active duty," he added.

Hayden's sentiment is closely aligned with that of the National Military Family Association, said Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, in his introduction of Hayden.

"He reflects the same feeling that this association demonstrates, and that is that strong families will enable a strong force," Maples said.

The USAA Foundation, the Association of Military Banks of America, United Concordia Companies, Inc., and Navy Federal Credit Union were honored today for their efforts to help keep military families strong.

The National Military Family Association presented these four organizations with the group's Dr. Lowell G. Daun Award. The award recognizes significant contributions to the development of NMFA and its initiatives through each group's support of military families.

"The recipients of the award that we're recognizing today work in military communities, either supporting them through health care benefits or information, education, (and) a litany of financial support," said Michelle Joyner, director of communications for NMFA. "They don't do this for the recognition. They do it because the feel it's the right thing to do."

While the organizations' representatives said they were honored to receive the recognition, they all turned the spotlight back on NMFA.

"We were certainly very pleased and honored," said Barbara Gentry, president of the USAA Foundation, which provides financial support to nonprofit groups that offer a wide variety of services including educational, health and human services, and civic and economic development. "I think, especially in the last few years, organizations like USAA Foundation ... have been looking for ways to support military families, and (NMFA) s a very good way to do so."

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Andre M. Egeland Jr., president of the Association of Military Banks of America, and Cutler Dawson, president of Navy Federal Credit Union, both agreed with Gentry. They, too, feel that supporting National Military Family Association initiatives is a good way to further support the military community they serve.

"I think all of us try to reach out on how we can help our service people and their families. NMFA facilitates that," Dawson said. "They help bring together a lot of people that help (the military.)

"We think they do great work and truly, they have the best interest of our military families at heart, and that's what it's all about," he added.

It has been an honor for the Association of Military Banks of America to support NMFA, Egeland added. "Hopefully we'll be able to continue to support them because it's been an honor to do that," he said.

The National Military Family Association also honored Edward F. Flaherty with the Anna C. Chennault Award for his consistent support of the organization. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant individual contributions to the development of NMFA and its initiatives.

Ten individuals received the Sydney Talley Hickey Award, previously known as the President's Award. It is presented to individuals, agencies or groups that give extraordinary service in support of military families, according to the National Military Family Association.

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