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 News Article

Blue Star Families Recognize Outstanding Support

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2015 – Blue Star Families celebrated its fifth-year anniversary here last night, recognizing three honorees for going “above and beyond the call of duty” to support military families.

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Army Brig. Gen. James Wong, right, congratulates Mark Johnson, second from left, the recipient of the Blue Star Neighbor award, at the Blue Star Families Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Washington, Feb. 24, 2014. Wong is the assistant to the National Guard's acting director. Kathy Roth-Douquet, left, founder and CEO of Blue Star Families, and Kelly Durkee-Erwin, third from left, who nominated Johnson, participated in the event. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Blue Star Families works in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to strengthen military families and connect the nation to the military.

The anniversary gala drew top military, congressional and Hollywood celebrities, and also launched the Blue Star Neighbors Campaign, an initiative to build creative connections between military families and their civilian neighbors.

The organization honored the White House’s Joining Forces initiative. Championed by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, the initiative brings together the public and private sectors to ensure that service members, veterans and their families have the tools they need to succeed.

Sheila Casey, the wife of retired Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., former Army chief of staff, co-chaired the anniversary gala. She chairs the Blue Star Families board of directors.

Building Strength in the Community

“We’re about building strength in our community,” she said, adding that it’s “wonderful” that Blue Star Families has made so many civilian-community connections in just five years. Looking back on the organization’s beginning, Casey said that as a military spouse of more than 40 years, she understands the challenges of isolation and other issues that face military families.

The second award went to the Creative Coalition, an organization of performers, producers, writers and others who mobilized the entertainment business around ideas and issues at the forefront of military families.

The Blue Star Neighbor award went to Mark Johnson of Waltham, Massachusetts. Johnson responded to a plea on Facebook seeking help for the family of a deployed service member in clearing an overwhelming amount of snow from around their home.

Johnson, who runs a snowplow business, not only kept the home clear all season, but also performed other tasks such as taking in the mail and moving refuse cans around so the house looked occupied during the deployment.

Blue Star Families is the largest and fastest-growing family engagement organization in the country, officials said. Its 50 chapters’ national and overseas programs and resources help more than 1 million military families each year.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD) 

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageBob Woodruff, an American journalist injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb, emcees the Blue Star Families Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Washington, Feb. 24, 2014. DoD photo by EJ Hersom  
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