By Rob McIlvaineDecember 8, 2010
ARLINGTON, Va. (Dec. 8, 2010) -- Sgt. Joseph Campbell left his flight medic duties in Afghanistan Friday and joined his family in Germany, Saturday, where they hosted charity events all day, packed their bags until 3 a.m. on Sunday. They then and got up at 6:30 a.m. for a plane ride back to the U.S. to receive the Army Family of the Year award on Tuesday.
The Campbells, of Landstuhl, Germany, received the award Tuesday from the National Military Family Association at a luncheon in Arlington attended by Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr.
"Sergeant Campbell is a great representative of Army families and the spirit of Army families," Casey said.
But Campbell later sought to correct the record:
"This is not my award. It's my wife's and my daughters' award," he said.
While Campbell has been deployed to Afghanistan for the past five months, his second tour of duty downrange, his family has kept busy by managing three successful charities: Operation Angel, Project Portrait, and Project Rudolph, which all seek to help deployed or injured servicemembers and their families with specialized care packages, hospital visits, and photo projects.
When asked why she started her charities, Tawny gave a sly smile.
"I got bored," Tawny said.
"That's wrong," piped in Joe. "Let me tell you about this woman. When I was getting ready to go on a mission back in 1997, Tawny sold my CDs and used the money to buy gifts for a needy family."
"On Valentine's Day, she made cookies for an old folks' home. And I thought, 'Well, maybe it's just a phase.' That was so many years ago and that phase is still going," Joe said.
"The charities started in 2006," Tawny said. "We fall under the National Pioneer Hall of Fame started by a retired Air Force general. He incorporated us as a 501 C(3) under him because he knew how much paperwork there was to start and he knew that this was such a good thing that he wanted it to be able to start immediately," she said.
"I can't stand next to this woman without feeling somewhat humbled by her service," Joe said.
The Campbells, along with six other families, representing the seven uniformed services, were presented with the 2010 National Military Family Association's Family of the Year Award.
"We really embrace the seven uniformed services that include the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration," said Communications Director Michelle Joyner, National Military Family Association.
"This is our fifth year of doing the program, but it's only the second year in which we've recognized seven families," Joyner said.
The Mullin family from Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, was chosen as Military Family of the Year and presented with a monetary award following the lunch.
"We didn't care if we won this Military Family of the Year award, because the biggest prize we won was having Joe come home. Nothing can compare to that," Tawny said.
Following a week of activities in the nation's capital, Joe will begin his R&R before returning to Afghanistan.
All seven families received an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. For about a week they participate in family activities, have opportunities to meet with members of Congress, enjoy lunch with the many dignitaries in attendance at the Sheraton Hotel in Arlington, Va., and receive their award.
The association recognizes strong military families who embrace their service to the nation, are role models in their community, and understand that together they are stronger. The nomination process begins in the spring with the awards presented in the fall or early winter.
The keynote speaker during the luncheon was Richard Danzig, former secretary of the Navy and senior advisor to then Senator Barack Obama on national security issues.
"In the military, we have such a profound emphasis on the sense of family, that we are, all of us, in this together - that we are a family. In this organization of some 2 million military members, representing Active duty, Guard and Reserves, they have some 3 million family members who are associated with this institution - 2 million of whom are children," Danzig said.
The Campbells believe in the importance of family.
"There's a lot of interaction between all of us. That's the way we roll," Tawny said, laughing as she and her 7-year-old daughter looked at each other.
"What's the most important thing'" Tawny asked Ceilidha, who didn't hesitate for a moment.
"Family and love," Ceilidha said.
To learn more about the National Military Family Association, visit www.MilitaryFamily.org.