Fort Drum community members were invited to be guests on the talk show "The View," Monday, with Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. Obama and Biden were on the talk show promoting support of military Families and their new initiative, Joining Forces. From left are Sonia Patton, Tiffany Wingeart, Julie Terry, Chantay Burleson and 1st Sgt. Walter Burleson, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment.

FORT DRUM, NY -- Soldiers, Family Members and volunteers from across post received recognition for their time and efforts during Fort Drum's Annual Volunteer and Man / Woman of the Mountain appreciation ceremony April 14 at the Commons.

From April 1, 2010, to March 31, 723 volunteers donated 128,224 hours, representing a savings of $2,738,864.64 if the time had been paid.

"Volunteering stabilizes our Army communities by contributing to our community's cohesiveness, increases self-reliance and enhances the well-being of our Soldiers and their Families," said Jane Bresko, Fort Drum Army Volunteer Corps program manager. "Without them, Fort Drum would be just like any other installation in the country. But, as the Fort Drum adage states, we are the best kept secret in the Army."

Next, Bresko announced attendees would receive a special, prerecorded video message from Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, Regional Command South and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

During the video, Terry expressed his gratitude to the volunteers for a "fantastic job."

"The Volunteer of the Year award (ceremony) is extremely special, and I want to personally thank you for all of your hard work. The Families and Soldiers of 10th Mountain Division (LI) of Fort Drum reap the benefits of your dedication and service to our great nation," he said.

He also thanked the Man and Woman of the Mountain recipients by telling them, "you all are, and have been, true servant leaders to Fort Drum, the community, the Soldiers and the civilians who make up our great North Country community."

To begin the ceremony, Bresko invited Tony Keating, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, to speak to the recipients and thank them for their hard work.

Keating described the ceremony as "an opportunity to pay tribute to the people who give selflessly to make sure Fort Drum is the premier post that it is.

"Tonight, we are going to honor 61 volunteers who stand out among their peers. For each of those 61, there (are) probably 20 or 50 additional volunteers who serve Fort Drum and the North Country community," he explained.

He said the volunteers' service comes from the heart, adding, "When service comes from the heart, it's like the old credit card commercial says: 'priceless.' There's really no way to calculate the value.

Keating also addressed the volunteers, asking them to "please understand that the gifts that we offer to you, as humble as they are, very much come from the heart."

He concluded by saying, "may the volunteer ethic that all of you epitomize always persist here at Fort Drum and in our country."

After speaking, Keating invited Col. Noel T. Nicolle, Fort Drum Garrison commander, and Julie Terry, wife of Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, to help present the Man and Woman of the Mountain Awards, which recognize individuals from the community for their contributions to Fort Drum.

Bresko described the first awardee, Deb Neher, as "a great role model to all who know her ... who can make a difference by helping to serve those who serve us."

Neher helped sponsor five units in the Adopt a 10th Mountain (LI) Platoon program and, to help show North Country support, has attended several Association of the United States Army national conventions in Washington, D.C.

"Deb is a great American who always steps up to the plate without being asked," Bresko noted.
The next recipient of the award was Peter Whitmore.

Bresko said his involvement in North Country events extends beyond planning and organizing, to include "master of the grill, clean-up duties and whatever it takes to make the events successful in support of the troops."

Whitmore serves on the board of directors for the Fort Drum chapter of AUSA, as well as the advisory board of USO.

He also was Fort Drum's 2009 Civilian Volunteer of the Year.

The final recipient was the late Doug Schelleng.

Bresko noted that Schelleng was an active Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization Executive Board member who worked to save the post during the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process.

"(He) tirelessly promoted Fort Drum as key to the local economy and was a maverick in creating new, inventive ways to get the word out," Bresko said.

Among those ideas was establishing drumcountry.com, drumcountrybusiness.com and the early marketing campaign, "You see a Soldier - we see a work force."

Bresko said Schelleng was a powerful advocate for Fort Drum in all phases of land management, and his efforts endure: Fort Drum remains unencroached and preserved.

Schelleng died March 4 in an automobile accident.

"His legacy will live on here, at Fort Drum, for years to come," Bresko said. She then invited Schelleng's family to receive the award. Included among the members were his wife, son, daughter, parents, brother and sister.

During the ceremony, the following groups of volunteers received recognition:

Family Readiness Groups:
Chantay Burleson, Carisa Clayton, Alison Fisher, Shannon Foster, Stefanie Frazelle, Sarah Freeburg, Heidi Greve, Tammy Haley, Andrea Heaton, Leah Jones, Dana Mann, Briann Martens, Cory McCray, Theresa McGuire, Camey McGurk, Angela Murphy, Marta Napolitano, Lindsay Nemec, Jennifer Ostrander, Dana Peterson, Elizabeth Rodriquez, Chanda Rutherford, Darlene Stamm, Carla Suel, Kirstin Velazquez, Toni Wagenbrenner, Crystal Weatherington, Amy Windmiller, Tiffany Wingeart and Julie Williams.

Large Community Groups:
Linda Charlesworth-Burch, So-nia Patton, Erna Petrich, Sheryl Sad, Marina Scano, Tonya Smedes, Jamie Showers, Michelle Suh, Jamie Terry, Heather Turner, Shae Williamson and Victoria Wright.

Small Community Groups:
Deana Ahearn, Kayla Clock, Christina Crawford, Christina Dieters, Alison Fisher, Tina Leyva, Amanda Love, Melissa Minami, Edward Wilder and Wesley Ziegler.

Child and Youth Groups:
John McAlister and Johnny Rowell.

Youths:
Yazmine Bellefortaine, Elizabeth Bresko, Kathleen Bresko, Ronnie Dvorsky, Connor Grubbs, John Poe and Webelos Den 6.

Officials then presented a few special awards to volunteers who have gone above and beyond their peers.

Volunteer of the Year Awards were presented to individuals who have shown outstanding support for the Fort Drum community. Nominations were collected from agencies, organizations and units across the installation.

Recognized as Volunteers of the Year from their respective groups were John McAlister, Connor Grubbs, Sonia Patton, Tiffany Wingeart and Wesley Ziegler.

Wingeart also was recognized as the 2011 Installation Volunteer of the Year.

The final award of the evening was historic for not only Fort Drum, but also for Army Community Service.

The Emma Marie Baird Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service was established Aug. 29, 1988, to memorialize the late retired Lt. Col. Emma Marie Baird, who is considered the foun-der of Army Community Service.

For outstanding volunteer contributions to Fort Drum services from 2007 to the present, the award was presented to Sonja Patton, who has contributed more than 3,909 hours of volunteer service.

After the awards presentation, Julie Terry announced that three of the recognized volunteers were invited to represent Fort Drum on ABC network's "The View" the following Monday.

Terry, along with Chantay Burleson and her husband, 1st Sgt. Walter Burleson, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment; Sonja Patton and Tiffany Wingeart appeared on Monday's show.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16