HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Elected officials, business leaders and military personnel gathered at the state capitol, Friday, to formally declare May to be Military Appreciation Month at a ceremony co-hosted by Hawaii Gov. David Ige and the Hawaii Military Affairs Council.

"It's now even more important that we have a focused voice here in the governor's office to really support the military presence on our islands," said Ige, explaining that a senior military affairs advocate will begin working in his office on July 1 to further strengthen the bond between the state and the military.

The ceremony also recognized service members from all branches of the military who made a difference in the community by volunteering.

Spc. Alina Zamora, the battalion environmental compliance officer at Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 307th Expeditionary Battalion, 516th Signal Brigade, 311th Sig. Command, was honored for her volunteer work with St. Jude, Foster Families of Hawaii, Fisher House Hawaii and the Salvation Army Wahiawa's assisted living program.

Zamora said she felt grateful that she was able to help these programs.

"It feels good to be able to give back to people who are less fortunate," she said. "I myself grew up a foster kid, so it was important for me to give back to kids -- whether it's ice skating, taking them to the aquarium or just being there for them when they need it."

The sense of family and togetherness she provided for the children mirrors the sense of family and togetherness the Army provides for her. It's what makes being part of the Army special to her.

"We're a team," she said. "We train together and we rely on each other."

Her chain of command, who accompanied her to the ceremony, said they were proud of her achievement and the example she sets for her fellow Soldiers.

"She gives it her all," said Capt. Lee Weyrick, HHC. "She gives selfless service both on the job and in her personal life, and I'm glad she was recognized today."

Added HHC 1st Sgt. Brian Johnson, "Other Soldiers see what she's done and will support the programs she's volunteered for. She is passing on her knowledge and support of these programs so that it will continue on. It won't end with her."

-- HMAM Honorees

The following were recognized at the capitol:

•Spc. Melody Bell, Hawaii Army National Guard;

•IT1 Erich Bull, U.S. Pacific Command;

•Sgt. Jonathan McDonald, U.S. Marine Forces, Pacific;

•BM1 Charles Palmer, U.S. Coast Guard District 14;

•HM2 Samuel Torres, U.S. Pacific Fleet;

•Senior Airman Stephanie Torres, U.S. Pacific Air Forces; and

•Spc. Alina Zamora, U.S. Army-Pacific.

The honorees were selected for demonstrating a strong commitment to community service.