Every year, units on Fort Jackson nominate deserving families for the Fort Jackson Family of the Year Award. During the annual Army Training Center and Fort Jackson quarterly awards ceremony Jan. 26, Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson, the installation commander, awarded the Family of the Year Award to Staff Sgt. John and Agata Berta of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Battalion.

The Berta story began at Fort Polk, Louisiana when John and Agata served as military policemen in the same battalion. They both deployed from Fort Polk to Iraq in 2008 and finally met each other upon redeployment in 2009. They were married in January 2011. John transferred to Alaska in March 2011 while Agata stayed at Fort Polk.

In August 2011, Agata left the Army and moved to Alaska to be with John. John deployed to Afghanistan in December 2011. After John returned in 2012, Agata gave birth to their twin daughters, Maddison and Elizabeth, in August 2013. the Berta's were assigned to Fort Jackson In April 2014, where John served in the 17th Military Police Detachment. John would go on to become a drill sergeant with Alpha Company, 2-13 Infantry Regiment.

While John serves as a drill sergeant, Agata serves in many roles within the battalion and Fort Jackson. She serves as the 1st Vice President and Secretary of the Victory Spouse Club, the 2-13 Family Readiness Group newsletter editor, the Alpha Company Key Caller, volunteers her time photographing trainees, and helps with Family Day and Graduation.

Captain Tom Simpson, the Alpha Company Commander, recently sat down with Agata to talk about the Family of the Year Award recognition.

Simpson: First of all, congratulations on winning the Family of the Year Award. We are all very thankful for everything you do and you made us very proud.

Agata: Thank you.

Simpson: When Marilynn Bailey (Fort Jackson volunteer coordinator) announced the winner, and you heard your name, where you surprised?

Agata: I was very surprised. It was an honor just to be nominated for the award and I know there are many families on Fort Jackson that contribute so much. But to actually win was a big surprise.

Simpson: How did your girls react to winning the award?

Agata: They were super excited. They say they were the ones that won and keep the trophy in their room.

Simpson: Being an Army spouse is a tough job. Is it any easier for you since you were a Soldier?

Agata: I think so. Since I've done the job too, I understand when he tells me he can't make it to something or is late coming home. It may not make it much easier but I definitely understand.

Simpson: What is some of the best advice you could give to a new Army Family?

Agata: Definitely get involved. Get involved with the unit and with the installation. A lot of new Families are simply unaware of the resources and information that are available to them and when you get involved you learn a lot.

Simpson: What's next for the Berta Family?

Agata: John really wants to become a drill sergeant leader at the Academy. Once he takes off the hat, I would like to move to Germany.

The Berta Family are a wonderful example of character and commitment. We thank them for everything they do for the battalion and the Fort Jackson team. We wish them the best of luck in the future.