2017 Most Deserving Military Family Finalists
All the nominees were well-deserving, and we appreciate the time they took to enter our contest!
I would like to nominate my husband, Ricardo Crooke. As a disabled Viet Nam veteran, my husband continues to serve his country through volunteer service and civic engagement. He was a part-time volunteer manger at the Jewish Federation, working with other veterans on providing housing, clothing, food, jobs and yard work. He collaborated with the staff of Bowen Senior Center to help provide resources to low income and needy seniors. He organized food drives for Thanksgiving baskets, gifts for grandmothers taking care of their grandchildren, developed projects for seniors yards to be cleaned, leaved\s bagged and trash picked up. He has a hearing disability, but does not allow this to stop him for providing for others and making a difference. While his primary focus continues to be on helping seniors and veterans, he is a great grandfather to all 6 of his grands. The oldest grandson in in the Air Force at the age of 23 on his 3rd tour, and he continues to encourage to call, email and tweet for him to stay strong, safe and on the course. With the other 5, he takes time to mentor, tutor, take the kids to the park, and be a presences in their lives. He shares his war stories with youth groups so that they will have a better understanding of protecting our country with morals and values. Having been married to this guy for 45 years, I know that I am truly blessed to have a husband that gives back to the communities we live and work in. As an active member of many veterans organizations, he does his very best to make it to all of the meetings and bring back information that can help someone else in the future. My husband believes that although retired, you can never retire from service. He has made it his goal to transform the lives of veterans and seniors by providing resources and the help they need and deserve. While veterans are facing adversity in their lives, my husband feels as though it is his calling to try and enrich their lives and make an impact to their problem. In order for other seniors and veterans to be heard, it is predirated on the support of other volunteers and family members. With respect to my husband, Ricardo Crooke, I, Genora Crooke, do here by recommend my husband for this wonderful and generous community award. He is transforming the lives of seniors and veterans through commitment, integrity, diversity, community resources as well as being a positive role model. I am so very proud of my 69 year old View Nam veteran.
Capt. Rev. Andee Courson
I am nominating Capt. Rev. Andee Courson of Cleveland GA for the family military vacation. Capt. Courson has been in the Guard for many years. He is faithful to his monthly duty and summer duty with the Guard and also his pastoring of Mt. Yonah Baptist Church in Cleveland, GA. Capt. Courson and his wife, Julie, have 4 natural children and also foster up to 4 more children. They are a tight family who is always together in what they do. Julie and the children support Capt. Andee in his Guard duties as well as his church pastorate duties, but as a family they need some spare vacation time, which they usually do not get now. I would appreciate your voting them the military family that deserves your vacation. Thanks.
My son in law, David Payton is a retired U.S. Marine that was wounded in combat in 2005. He has been through so much over the years related to his injury. He and my daughter have 8 children together. They are always busy with their kids and haven't been able to take a vacation since 2005. David developed a severe infection in his right eye around June of 2016 and had to have his right eye removed in August of 2016. He underwent a stem cell transplant and another cornea transplant on his left eye in March I 2017. His vision has improved some, in his left eye. His last vision test, he was 20/300. I think it would be great for the family if they could get away to just have some fun and not focus so much on everything that they've been through, especially in the last year. This has been such a traumatic situation for his family, particularly his children. They've had a very hard time coping with their dad losing an eye. He hasn't been able to watch them play at their games or help coach at tournaments or even just throw the football in the yard, the things that most families get to do as a part of their normal routine. Despite all of his medical problems, he never ceases to amaze me at how he continues to carry on and finds ways to accomplish whatever he has set out to do. Their family continues to give back to the community by feeding the homeless and giving out basic supplies, as they are able. He is such a selfless person and always puts other people's needs above his own. I know if I ever need anything, I can count on David and Heather. Please give them this opportunity to be able to spend together as a family and have fun! I couldn't think of anyone that needs it more or is more deserving than this family. Thank you!
I nominate my husband, Sgt. Chadwick Turner. My husband served in our military for 11years until his service came to and end in 2010 when he was injured in Afghanistan. He was doing an air assault mission and they couldn't get a flight out from there drop site due to weather so they had to walk back to there Outpost when they were ambushed. He currently suffers from a traumatic brain injury which effects his memory, speech, hearing and cognitive skills. He also injured his back and has severe PTSD. These injuries he lives with on a daily basis. Since we were married in 2004 we have had a son who his 12 years old and is high functioning autistic and my husband has been through 4 consecutive tours overseas. We have not once in our 12 years of marriage have had a family Vacation together. My husband deployed time and time again just so we could have the insurance we needed to get our son the help he needed. Then once my husband was injured and retired out of the Army we just haven't had the extra money to take a vacation. If we were chosen for this contest it would be a dream come true for our family to be able to take our son somewhere fun, somewhere we can make some wonderful memories and try to put the bad ones behind us. Although my husband lives with the nightmares everyday of the time he served overseas this vacation would be something he could look forward too. Thank you for giving back to our Military Families. God Bless!
Sgt Joseph Zook
Joey is a brave and proud career Marine on his final dangerous deployment. Once again he has left his young family as he serves our country. His wife and three children have relocated many times, whenever they were allowed to be with him.They are anxiously awaiting his return and praying for his safety and the safety of our country.
This is a true patriot family. Heather has volunteered in a number of civilian capacities for military families and for the service members. She taught in a DoD school at Westpoint. In fact, her teaching career has been made difficult by the many moves, including one station in Okinawa. Her family has always managed to take advantage of the cultural opportunities each new place affords.
The family is very active and fit. They run, kayak, hike, swim, and Heather participates in Warrior Training. Heather has voluntarily led several physical fitness groups and volunteered at her children's school, teaching physical education.
Joey has had an outstanding career, earning many awards and citations. He is a well liked by officers and enlisted alike.
I would love to see the family have a chance to vacation when Joey comes home....a truly peaceful celebration of a job well done in service to our country. It would be a great time for the twins Ava and Aiden, who are 8, and Bella, who is 11, to have a special time with their dad, whom they love and miss. Heather and Joey renewed their vows recently and it would be amazing for them to have this time away.
Thank you for sponsoring this contest!