FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson honored 18 families for their contributions to the community during the annual Family of the Year ceremony Friday at the Solomon Center. The post also named 1st Sgt. Westley Bockert, wife Heather and their six children Military Family of the Year during last week's event.

The family was endorsed for nomination by Col. Bryan Hernandez, commander of the 165th Infantry Brigade.

"I wasn't expecting this at all," Heather Bockert said shortly after the award was announced. "It's an honor. All the things we do seem so minimal, but I guess people see it more than we do."

"I think there are a couple of other families that were probably more deserving," said 1st Sgt. Westley Bockert, of the 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment. He said he didn't know the family had even been nominated until a week earlier, when he was notified by email.

The nomination form outlined many of the family's contributions to Fort Jackson community during the previous year.

"The Bockerts' most outstanding and selfless contribution to the success of the unit is their decision to babysit many of the drill sergeants' children from their company," the nomination reads. "In one specific case, a single-parent drill sergeant's child was removed from on-post day care for being unruly. This removal would have meant that both of the drill sergeant's children would have to go back to live with their biological father, who does not live nearby."

The Bockerts decided to care for these two children when their mother was at work, though, keeping the family from being separated.

Military Family Appreciation Month is observed every November to recognize and honor military families for their contributions and sacrifices.

"The Army recognizes that the selfless dedication and commitment of Army families directly contributes to the readiness of our Soldiers," said Col. Stephen Yackley, Fort Jackson deputy commander. "Families are the force behind the force."

Families of the active Army, National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, other military services, retirees, and civilian employees were eligible for nomination. Families were nominated based on individual growth of each family member, love and teamwork within the family, and friendship and service between the family and Fort Jackson community.

"This is our way of life," Heather Bockert said. "We've done this for 18 years. (The military community is) a very close-knit group, very family oriented. Everyone leans on each other. We're away from our families, so having each other to lean on is awesome."

2013 Family of the Year Nominees:

193rd Infantry Brigade
- Staff Sgt. Brian Jones and family; Company D, 1st Battalion,13th Infantry Regiment
- Staff Sgt. Jason Rhoads and family; Co. B, 1-13th
- Sgt. Jesse Martinez and family; Co. A, 3-60th
- Sgt. 1st Class David Miller and family; Co. D, 3-13th
- Staff Sgt. Nicholas Graham and family; Co. A, 3-13th
- Staff Sgts. Jonathan and Ana Theobald and family; Co. B, 3-13th, 165th Infantry Brigade
- Staff Sgt. Maaka Tuionetoa and family; Co. B, 3-34th
- 1st Sgt. Wesley Bockert and family; Co. F, 1-61st

171st Infantry Brigade
- Sgt. 1st Class Lynn Dishon and family; Reception Holding Unit, 120th
- Sgt. 1st Class Reva Wood and family, Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 120th
- Sgt. Cyrus Vaughn family; 17th Military Police Detachment
- Capt. Thomas Dean family; HHQ, 171st
- Sgt. Danilo Zunigamadrid family; Co. A, 120th
- Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Avant and Staff Sgt. Jodine Avant and family; Co. C, 187th
- Staff Sgt. Geron Shelton and family; 187th
- Staff Sgt. Curtis Henegar and family; Co. A, 4-10th

- Maj. Tyler Clark and family

-Sgt. 1st Class Robert Holder and family