By Mr. Rob Mcilvaine (ARNEWS)November 30, 2010
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - For dedicated service to her Family and community, Army spouse Trish Ratliff of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., won a year's worth of free housecleaning services through the Armed Forces Recreation Centers "Caregivers Appreciation" promotion.
The second and third place winners- Air Force spouse Terrie Antosh, stationed at the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Army spouse Stacey LeMorta of Fort Belvoir, Va.- received six months of free housecleaning services. The fourth place winner, Navy spouse Jodi Bembree currently living on Travis Air Force Base, Calif., received three months of free housecleaning.
The Army Family and MWR Command promotion ran from Aug. 1 through Oct. 24, as part of the command's support to both Military Family Appreciation Month and National Family Caregivers Month. The AAFES Exchange Service donated the prizes for the competition.
Trish Ratliff, married to Sgt. Thomas L. Ratliff for nearly 16 years, has "held down the fort" by creating a home for their three children - Thomas Lee, 14; Andrew Jacob, 12; and Kayleigh Jane, 5 - while Sgt. Ratliff served his country on many missions abroad.
"Trish's biggest joy in life is being a mother to three beautiful children," her friend Jennifer wrote in her nomination of Trish on Facebook.
"Her oldest son suffers from debilitating migraines and her middle child has been diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome. Both require ongoing care and Trish is right there with them...facilitating their care and ensuring their medical needs are adequately met."
This past July 4, though, Trish suffered a setback when she collapsed in Jennifer's home. After being rushed to the hospital, she was diagnosed with Frontal Lobe Epilepsy.
As a result of her diagnosis, she lost the privilege to drive a car and had to give up her job of educating young, economically challenged mothers on how to properly care for their children.
Undeterred, she continues to pursue her degree in psychology and care for her own family.
"I think it's incredible to win this award during a month that celebrates so much of what I represent," Trish said.
The Epilepsy Foundation has named November as National Epilepsy Awareness Month. According to the foundation, nearly three million Americans are affected by recurrent and unprovoked seizures.
Caregivers across the U.S. and stationed abroad were also recently honored when President Barack Obama proclaimed November as National Family Caregivers Month.
Additionally, in their ongoing effort to honor the commitment and sacrifices made by Families of the nation's Soldiers, the Army celebrates Military Family Appreciation Month in November.
Currently working on her Associate's Degree with nine credit hours to complete, Trish will finish this portion of her education in March.
"I plan to continue immediately in the Bachelor's program," Trish said. "My ultimate goal is to be a clinical or counseling psychologist."
Working with women at the Women, Infants, and Children Program with the Health Department, she said, made her realize the passion she has for helping others through difficult situations.
"Even though I have been out of the office on medical leave, I still have clients calling to check on me and to seek help. It really makes me feel so wonderful to know that I have made a difference in their lives," Trish said.
Trish said she's eager to earn her four-year degree so she's equipped to change people's lives for the better in a professional manner.
"She never complains and she is never bitter," Jennifer said in her nomination letter.
"She simply takes one day at a time. Despite the fact she herself is struggling, she continues to bless her Family and friends with love, grace, beauty and strength. Trish is an inspiration to all she meets and certainly a worthy and deserving candidate (for this award)," Jennifer said.
Trish and her son are both enrolled in the Army's Exceptional Family Member Program.
"Marlene Foster Cherrye, the EFMP program manager at Fort Eustis Army Community Service, was incredibly helpful with all the paperwork, always responding to my calls and questions quickly and completely. She helped me navigate through the system and with my son's needs at school, as well," Trish said.
An exceptional Family member is a child or adult with any physical, emotional, developmental or intellectual disorder that requires special treatment, therapy, education, training or counseling.
"The Exceptional Family Member Program is one way we can keep some of the most important promises articulated in the Army Family Covenant... providing access to Family programs that foster an environment in which Families can thrive," said Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the Installation Management Command, when announcing plans to revitalize the program.
EFMP is currently serving 16 percent of all Army Families, or more than 70,000 registered Family members..
"I don't know exactly how I find the time to do what I do sometimes," Trish said. "Helping others brings me joy. If I can make someone's day a little easier with a kind word, a shoulder, or advice it makes my day better."
"I believe God has given a gift to each of us to be a blessing in other's lives in some way. Even when I am tired, stressed, or busy I just make the time to be there if someone needs me and it works," Trish said. "There is always still time to get my assignments done, take care of my children and my husband, and do what needs to be done."
With the help of Jennifer's nomination and AAFES' donation of free house-cleaning services for the winner of the Caregiver's promotion, Trish has a little more time to spare.