FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson recognized the contributions 20 families have made to the community during the Family of the Year ceremony Nov. 23 at the Solomon Center.

"Each and every day we celebrate our military families, but today is the day that we recognize them for their sacrifice and contribution," said Brig. Gen. Bradley May, Fort Jackson's commanding general, in his opening remarks. "We do know that the strength of our Soldiers comes from the strength of our families, especially while the nation remains at war. We recognize our families for the individual growth of each family member, love and teamwork within the family, as well as friendship and service between the families of Fort Jackson."

A panel of five independent judges, all of whom are volunteer coordinators in the Columbia area, reviewed the nominations and selected the Family of the Year, said Marilynn Bailey, the installation's Army volunteer corps coordinator.

This year, the title was awarded to Lt. Col. Collin Fortier, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, his wife Chris and their two children. According to the justification written by the nominating committee, the Fortier family "epitomizes the Army family values, including alliance to all military families and their community. (The Fortiers) put the welfare of their unit, Fort Jackson and Army above their own needs and lead by example of embracing families in the community."

Chris Fortier said she was stunned that her family received the award. She said she feels that all the nominated families were worthy of the honor.

"We're just here to support Army families, which is what our passion is," she said. "I think everybody else who was here today has done something really big. We have brilliant minds who put together support groups for spouses. We have people who set up the NIA (National Infantry Association) program ..., FRG leaders everywhere, mayors, people who are on the school board. All these people have stepped up. We haven't done any of that."

Her husband echoed that sentiment and pointed out that the leadership on Fort Jackson has been strongly supportive of families, which contributed to all the families' achievements.

"You couldn't do that unless you had a community that actively supported it," he said.

Both Fortiers agreed that winning the award does not make them stand out from the other families and their contributions.

"I think the real winners are the Fort Jackson community and all the Army spouses and all the Army families who we support," Chris said.