FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- April is National Volunteer Month, and last week was Fort Huachuca Volunteer Week. In keeping with the tradition of recognizing those who donate their time in service to others, three Volunteers of the Year for 2009 were honored April 15, along with other "Shining Stars" during a luncheon at Fort Huachuca's Thunder Mountain Activity Centre.

Names of all Fort Huachuca volunteers were listed on laminated cutout stars and pasted to the floor. Red, white and blue shiny mylar balloons adorned the TMAC, and a balloon archway framed the entrance.

Following a buffet lunch, Stacy Jones, chief, Army Community Services, presented the garrison commander with a symbolic check for $$1,292,071.50, representing the dollar amount volunteers saved Fort Huachuca by volunteering 63,806 hours during 2009.

Cameron Miller, 13, son of Col. Timothy and Dawn Miller, was named Youth Volunteer of the Year.
"It [was a] surprise," Dawn said. "He [found out] at the luncheon. I told him I was taking him just to recognize his volunteer effort," explained the proud mom, who nominated her son for the award.

"I nominated him for the help he gives to the Fort Huachuca Community Spouses Club," she said. Miller is the FHCSC president and described some of her son's activities.

In addition to helping set up for FHCSC events, Cameron volunteers at the hospitality table during the Armed Services Blood Drives. He also helps with 111th Military Intelligence Brigade special events and fundraisers. Cameron's father is brigade commander.

The eighth-grade student also participates in Smith Middle School events involving volunteer work, to include Junior National Honor Society.

"Sure, he would rather play games and have fun with his friends. However, he's learning the value of volunteering," Miller said. "Volunteering takes time. I nominated him in recognition [for the hours] he volunteered in 2009."

"Thank you," said a sheepish Cameron when asked to make remarks at the podium.

Civilian Volunteer of the Year is Irma Low, who has done volunteer work for 20-plus years at the Fort Huachuca Thrift Shop. She works five or six hours each day the shop is open.

Lynn Michaud, Thrift Shop volunteer, and Diane Pulliam, Thrift Shop manager, nominated her for the award, which also came as a surprise during a recognition ceremony following the luncheon.

"Everyone cares for her; she's a wonderful person. I've known her for over 20 years," Michaud said.

"She has won Thrift Shop Volunteer of the Year two times," she noted, adding this is the first time she's taken the Fort Huachuca honor.

Sgt. 1st Class Todd Crutchfield, Company C, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training Battalion, has been named Military Volunteer of the Year.

The Roanoke, Va. native who has 18 years of Army service, said he was shocked when he received the call telling him of his nomination.

"I do not even know who nominated me, and don't know what the criteria [for nomination] were.
"Never in a million years did I expect a call telling me I'd been nominated for the Military Volunteer of the Year award, let alone being selected the winner. Surprised is an understatement. I am deeply honored," Crutchfield said.

The Soldier, who is also his company first sergeant, credits his 750 hours of volunteer time since November 2008 as what might have set him apart from other military volunteers. He started with the Citizens' Police Academy, a Sierra Vista Police Department volunteer training program, and has been with them ever since. He is a member of the Citizens' Police Academy Association Alumni.

The Soldier has also participated in Total Army Involved Recruiting, which includes setting up static displays and staffing at public events such as races, sports and schools.

Until his duties got to be too much, he was a member of B Troop, 4th Regiment, U.S. Cavalry (Memorial) and the volunteer Arizona Rangers.

Crutchfield said he initially started out as a volunteer for selfish rather than altruistic reasons.
"Between October 2007 and June 2008, I lost six close family members, including both of my parents. It was a rough time. I'd go to work and come home to idle time, which I mostly spent grieving. I needed to keep my mind spinning [and] occupied, he explained.

"It [volunteering] helps me as much as it helps others [I serve]. I decided to stay with it."
The Soldier credits his Family for his award.

"I work; afterward I volunteer. This takes time, and the Family sacrifices such things as having me at school awards ceremonies and dinners. They sacrifice Family time so I can volunteer."

"Fort Huachuca and the community depend on each other," said Fort Huachuca Garrison Commander Timothy Faulkner. "Volunteers enhance the community and show what Fort Huachuca stands for."

He described the unique, transient life of a military Family, and the frequent moves from one assignment to another. He explained the differences volunteers, such as coaches and Sunday School teachers, made in their children's lives, that children know their names and get excited when they meet these mentors in public places.

Then, he shared an anecdote.

At the end of one military assignment, he and other officers were handed sheets of paper and asked to write down what they liked best about the duty station, including favorite restaurants, activities and other things and events that made the assignment special.

The officers carefully wrote out their answers and handed the papers back to the woman who'd told them what to include.

She picked up the sheets, stacked then in a neat pile, then ripped the papers down the middle.
"This is how your children feel about leaving for a new assignment," she said.

This further brought home the difference volunteers make in the community.

Sometimes, it even pays to be a volunteer.

Each of the three honorees received a plaque and a commander's coin.

They also received a $500 U.S. Savings Bond, $100 gift certificates to Target and Best Buy, and a $50 gift certificate to the Texas Road House.