By Damien Salas, Pentagram Staff WriterApril 30, 2015
1. Congress designated May as National Military Appreciation Month in 1999 "to encourage the nation to publicly demonstrate their appreciation for the sacrifices and successes made by our service members," according to the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Program. The declaration summoned U.S. citizens to observe the month "in a symbol of unity, to honor the current and former members of the armed forces, including those who have died in the pursuit of freedom and peace."
2. May 5-10 is Public Service Recognition Week, organized annually by the Public Employees Roundtable to honor those who serve as employees of federal, state, county and local government organizations, according to the PRSW website. Celebrated the first week of May since 1985, the observance is meant to connect Americans to public servants and government employees, including U.S. service members, to "showcase their accomplishments and recognize the significant challenges they take on each and every day," according to the PRSW website.
3. May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, and the Department of Defense traditionally recognizes this observance with special ceremonies to highlight the achievements and successes of Asian-Pacific Americans. Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will host a formal recognition of this annual observance May 14, 11:30 a.m. at the Community Center (Building 405) on the Fort Myer portion of JBM-HH. U.S. Army Col. Samuel Lee, a military chaplain, will be the guest speaker. Lee served as the first division-level Army chaplain of Asian-American descent.
4. President Ronald Reagan first set aside May 8 in appreciation for military spouses in 1984. "On behalf of all Marines, it is my distinct pleasure to recognize the contributions, support and sacrifices of our military spouses," said Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., in an April 21 statement. "I am continuously humbled by the strength and devotion our spouses display no matter the station or duty call." A May 8 luncheon at the Fort Myer portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will recognize military spouses from each of the armed services in the eighth annual Military Spouse of the Year awards ceremony.
5. Each Memorial Day for the past six decades, Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), based out of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, place American flags in honor of America's fallen at some 220,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery, according to the cemetery's website. Additionally, a U.S. government official - normally either the president, vice president or secretary of defense - participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the cemetery on Memorial Day. Thousands of veterans, service members, supporters and family members flood the National Capital Region to observe Memorial Day annually.
6. First lady Michelle Obama announced April 24 that numerous technology and energy companies have committed to hire or train 90,000 veterans and military spouses in the next five years as part of the Joining Forces initiative. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, launched Joining Forces in 2011 to honor and support service members, survivors, veterans and their families, according to the initiative's website.
7. The Department of Defense (DOD) has announced the winners of the 2015 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards. In FY 2014, DOD invested approximately $4.1 billion in its environmental programs: $2 billion for environmental restoration activities; $1.9 billion for environmental quality activities; and $203.1 million for environmental technology. More information and the list of nine winners can be found at http://go.usa.gov/3BKMC.
8. May is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the Department of Defense will continue to recognize this special observance through a variety of safety events, including motorcycle safety checks and rides throughout installations. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Farnsworth, directory of Army safety and commanding general for the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, said the annual observance is used to ward off complacency among service members who ride motorcycles, according to an April 23 Army news article. JBM-HH's Headquarters Command Battalion will host its annual Motorcycle Mentorship Ride May 15. More details about this event, and other JBM-HH-hosted motorcycle safety rides and events, will be published in forthcoming issues.
9. The U.S. has sent an Air Force aircraft to Nepal to deliver personnel and cargo in support of disaster-relief operations, according to Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren. A 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit the country April 25, reportedly leaving more than 4,600 dead, about 9,000 injured and thousands more still missing, as of April 28. In addition, thousands of people are currently reported to be without food, water or shelter.
10. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense office, announced April 20 the selection of 30 finalists for the 2015 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest honor the department gives to employers for support of National Guard and reserve employees. A board comprising senior department and other officials as well as representatives from prior recipient organizations will select the Freedom Award recipients, which will be honored at the 20th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony at the Pentagon later this summer.