FORT BRAGG, N.C. - On Dec. 3, Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Loehr, a platoon sergeant with 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, his wife Nicole and six boys Jeremy, Jonathan, Joshua, Jeffery, Nicholas and James were selected as 2009 Fort Bragg Family of the Year at the Main Post Chapel.

"We are truly honored for this award," said Loehr. "Just to be nominated is amazing let alone be honored with the title of Family of the Year."

Loehr, who just returned from his third deployment, credits his wife for the Family's cohesiveness.
"She is truly the backbone of our Family," said Loehr. "Without her I don't know how we would function."

"With six boys, all involved in their own activities, we take every day step by step and prepare for any changes that might happen throughout our day," said Nicole.

At the beginning of November there were 32 nominations sent in from Fort Bragg unit commanders to recognize Families within their own units who demonstrated strength, character, service and commitment to Family and community.

"The Family of the Year title is a chance for us to shine a light on the hard work those military Families go though with deployments, while still maintaining service to their communities," said Catherine Mansfield, who serves as the Volunteer Service Coordinator with Army Community Service.

The nominations are received and reviewed by a panel made up of five community members who work with Families on a daily basis. Each panel reviews the submissions 'blind,' meaning the names of the nominees and their units are taken out of the letters.

After each submission is fully reviewed, the panel members come together to discuss and determine their top five nominees. When the nominees have been decided they are brought in and interviewed as a Family by a separate panel made up of five community members.
"The interview was interesting to say the least," said Loehr. "We just told them who we are and what we do."

Once all the scores from the interview are tallied, all the nominees are honored and the winner is announced at a ceremony recognizing the end of Military Family Month.

"I say this every year, but I can still honestly say it is a tough decision for both panels to score, interview and select only one of these Families as Family of the year," said Mansfield.
"When we heard our name called I was so surprised I couldn't believe it," said Loehr. "It is a true honor to be recognized after this whole process."