By Mary M. RallMay 29, 2008
FORT RICHARDSON, Alaska - Sgt. Christopher Allais, a rigger and maintenance sergeant with 4th Quartermaster Detachment, 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, is one of seven service members who were recognized with a USA Freedom Corps President's Volunteer Service Award May 17.
Although Allais was unable to attend the ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office building in Washington, D.C., to receive the award from USA Freedom Corps Director Henry Lozano, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, President's Council on Service and Civic Participation member Mary Jo Myers and actor Stephen Baldwin, the 23-year-old Soldier said he was surprised and grateful to be recognized with the honor.
Allais said he knew Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers president Spc. Samantha Boucher had nominated him for an award, but he thought it was a Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
"I had no clue what award it was," Allais said, adding he had put the award out of his mind after being nominated for it two months prior. "When things take that long, you kind of say, 'Alright, things didn't quite work out,'" he said.
The recipients have brought lessons and character from their military service to their volunteer work, Cartwright said of the award winners in an American Forces Press Service press release.
"It's not likely to be something that's short-lived," he said. "It's something they're going to do for their whole life."
The recipients are the type of people who devote themselves to their communities, the general said, adding they are the type of behind-the-scenes people who end up mayors and policemen.
Allais, who is originally from Vancouver, Wash., was also recognized as the 2008 Fort Richardson Military Volunteer of the Year April 22. He celebrated his second anniversary with his wife, Shanney, May 20, who was also recognized as the post Civilian Volunteer of the Year.
Working as a volunteer with groups such as the Family Readiness Group, BOSS and Airmen Against Drunk Driving allows him to feel good about contributing to the community, Allais said.
"I feel good about myself because I volunteer," he said. "It lets me know that I've done something for my community."
He said he finds his efforts to be especially meaningful because he is volunteering for programs he believes in.
"I personally support the programs," Allais said. "Airman Against Drunk Driving, for example. I think it's stellar, and people should volunteer for it more simply because it helps people out and it gives Soldiers an out whenever they're downtown - Soldiers and airmen both."
Allais didn't begin to volunteer with BOSS until he was married, but feels it's important to contribute to the quality of life for the post's single Soldiers.
"They do trips to Seward. They do all kinds of different events," he said. "There're a lot of things that they do for the single Soldiers."
Allais has served in the Army for four-and-a-half years, and says he is currently on the fence as to whether or not to make the military a career.
"Until now, I've always said I'd make it a career, so that's probably the direction I'm going," he said, adding he hopes to do a second consecutive tour at Fort Richardson. "I do love Alaska, so I'd like to stay up here another tour," he said.
Whatever the case may be, volunteering is certain to be a part of his future. "It's just nice to be appreciated," Allais said. "I mean, really, the recognition is great. It's something that I'm personally not used to. It feels good."
Mary M. Rall is editor of the Alaska Post.
MEDIA ADVISORY: If you'd like more information, please contact Bob Hall, the U.S. Army Garrison-Alaska Public Affairs Officer, at (907) 384-2546.