VILSECK, Germany -- In honor of Military Family Appreciation Month, Army Community Service sponsored an essay contest asking members of USAG Grafenwoehr to nominate, in 500 words or less, a local family for recognition.

Essays highlighted families' volunteer work, outreach and philanthropy within the community. ACS chose one family to be recognized publicly each week in November. At the end of the month, one of the four families will be named Military Family of the Year.

The essay below nominated the Heller family. The author, who wishes to remain anonymous, nominated 1st Sgt. Alex Heller, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Nicole Heller and their son Austin, as a standout family in Grafenwoehr.

Military Family Appreciation Month Essay -- The Heller Family

This family is a true military family that goes above and beyond what the Army expects from them. They are a family of three and the parents are great role models for their son. They volunteer so much and it is a family value, so now their 11-year-old son has chosen to volunteer in school. Austin, their son, chooses to be an Ambassador at the Netzaberg Junior High School, where he shows new students around the school and acts as a friendly face in a new environment.

As a first sergeant, Alex does not have much free time on his hands. However, with the little time he has, he chooses to volunteer. Alex is a soccer referee and was a youth coach for CYSS sports. He also is a representative for USAG Grafenwoehr in the CYSS European tournaments. Finally, Alex provided a soccer referee clinic for the garrison.

Mrs. Heller is currently the FRG co-leader for Headquarter and Headquarters Troop. Previously, she was the FRG co-leader for Palehorse Troop from 2008-2009, HHT from 2009-2010, and FRG leader for Killer Troop from 2011-2012. Mrs. Heller developed a volunteer incentive program for Killer Troop and HHT FRG that increased participation by spouses by 75 percent in less than three months. She also implemented Spouse Troop logos for both Killer Troop and HHT to build esprit de corps among the spouses and pride in the unit.

Mrs. Heller volunteers to take photos at unit functions to include change of command, change of responsibility and welcome home ceremonies. In addition, she volunteers to be on the 4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment care team and cooks meals for families in the unit who have new babies or who are hospitalized. Finally, as an FRG volunteer, she organized five squadron-level social events, such as Hollywood Nights and Casino Nights, one each year for Soldiers and spouses of 4/2.

Not only did Mrs. Heller volunteer with her FRG extensively, she also volunteered for Vilseck Community Spouses Club from 2010-2012 as volunteer chair and in 2012 as the historian on the Crown Jewel Bazaar Committee. Next, she also volunteered with the Saber Foundation from 2008-2010. Mrs. Heller did all of this while working full time and attending a couple of college classes.