By Amy PerryMay 31, 2018
FORT LEE, Va. -- The 2018 Heroes at Home Military Spouse of the Year for Central Virginia was announced at a celebratory luncheon in the Lee Club May 11.
Stephanie Renteria - whose husband Capt. Mark Renteria serves as the commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, CASCOM - was selected as the top honoree out of 10 Fort Lee spouses nominated.
The Heroes at Home program, hosted by Military Newspapers of Virginia, was launched in 2005 with a goal of "showing appreciation to spouses for their steadfast support of military members, their families and their communities," said Susan Loden, volunteer coordinator for Army Community Service here and the master of ceremonies for the event.
"These spouses have volunteered countless hours, assisting in area schools, athletic leagues, churches or charitable organizations. (They are) advocates for better healthcare, education and employment programs and policies," Loden informed the luncheon audience. "They have served in Family Readiness Groups, as command ombudsmen and key organizational supporters - all while very often caring for their own families upon enduring a move hundreds or thousands of miles from home. They have maintained that new homefront and supported each other while facing life's daily challenges. The example these spouses set for their community is one of strength and the indomitable spirit of those who persevere."
Volunteering and supporting her spouse is just part of military life, said Renteria, downplaying the notion of the bestowed "Hero" title. She described her reaction to the announcement as a mixture of shock and surprise.
"There are so many spouses who do much more than me," she observed. "I am just honored to represent them."
Like many Heroes at Home nominations - which can be submitted by anyone in the military community - Renteria's was sent in by her husband who said he wanted show his wife how much she means to him.
"I've been married to her for 12 years," he said. "She's always gone above and beyond what's expected by anyone. I've been on four tours to Iraq, and I'm on my second company command assignment. Throughout that time, she's done lots of work within family readiness groups and more, and I just want her to be recognized."
The Heroes at Home nod included the award of a seven-day luxury resort vacation package with cash for airfare and other associated costs. The prize was provided by USAA, the primary corporate supporter of the program.
During the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Victorio DeSouza, garrison CSM, spoke on behalf of Col. Adam Butler, garrison commander, who was not available to attend. The colonel expressed congratulations for the winner and sincere gratitude to all spouses of Fort Lee troops.
"In spite of emotional and physical challenges, you manage careers and entire households," DeSouza said in his remarks. "On top of that, you choose to volunteer what time and energy you have remaining to support our military and the community. I don't know how you do it, but my hat is off to you."
The guest speaker for the event was Dr. Patrick Bingham, assistant superintendent at Prince George County Public Schools and spouse of Fort Lee alumnus Lt. Gen. Gwen Bingham, who is serving as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management.
Although Bingham started out in the military, he has since transitioned to the role of military spouse, helping to take care of the homefront as his wife continues her climb through the ranks.
"As every spouse knows, there's a lot of work to do to support your military partner," he informed the assembly. "While occasionally a ball or two may drop, many of you out there are professional jugglers, never missing a beat.
"I just want to continue to thank our military spouses - those who are being recognized and those at home - who volunteer their time," Bingham continued. "I can state unequivocally that few groups of spouses in our country sacrifice more or works greater than our military spouses."
Community members who would like to know more about the Heroes at Home program can visit its website www.militarynews.com/heroes-at-home. The site includes spotlight question-and-answer interviews with regional winners.
Stephanie Renteria poses with her husband, Capt. Mark Renteria, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, CASCOM, and Bradford Sargeant, USAA director of military affairs, after learning she was selected as the Heroes at Home Military Spouse of the year at the program annual luncheon in the Lee Club May 11. USAA provided the grand prize for the top spouse. (Photo by Amy Perry, Fort Lee Public Affairs)
Dr. Patrick Bingham, assistant superintendent at Prince George County Public Schools and spouse of Fort Lee alumnus Lt. Gen. Gwen Bingham, who is serving as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, expresses gratitude to his fellow military spouses during the annual Heroes at Home luncheon at the Lee Club May 11. (Photo by Amy Perry, Fort Lee Public Affairs)