Fort Bragg’s 2011 Family of the Year
Keri Stevenson has driven pregnant wives of soldiers to the hospital, and she’s always available to talk about all the things that go wrong during deployments. A few nights ago, she was on the phone letting a frustrated mother vent to her.
And she does it while raising two children on her own while her husband, Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Stevenson, is deployed to Afghanistan with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade.
“She does amazing things for families that are not just her blood family every single day,” said Kaye Dunham, a fellow military spouse.
That selfless attitude is a big part of the reason the Stevensons were named Fort Bragg’s 2011 Family of the Year.
Keri Stevenson, her 12-year-old son Baylee and 10-year-old daughter Madison accepted the recognition Thursday, just before the post’s holiday tree lighting ceremony.
James Stevenson, who met his wife more than 15 years ago when they were next-door neighbors in Navy barracks at Guantanamo Bay, listened from Afghanistan as the announcement was made. The family praised God in a brief phone conversation, then Keri Stevenson told her husband he should go get some rest.
A family readiness group co-leader, she said military families with deployed soldiers need support from people who know what it’s like.
“We have to take care of each other while they take care of each other (at war),” she said. “It’s just the Golden Rule. I would want somebody to take care of me if something went wrong.”
The Family of the Year award recognizes families who demonstrate strength, character, service and commitment to their family, unit and community, according to Fort Bragg.
The Stevensons were selected from 26 families, all nominated by their chain of command.
Maj. Gen Rodney Anderson, deputy commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps, said military families are vital to the overall strength of the services.
“Families, just know that your sacrifice, your support and your service to the nation is one of the things that really makes America strong,” he said.
The Family of the Year title comes with some perks. The Stevensons received a $250 commissary gift card, a $500 AAFES gift card and a Kindle Fire e-reader. They also lit the Christmas tree on post.
As part of the selection process, each of the nominated families were asked to write their own definition of family.
“Family means unconditional commitment to one another, even when separated by many miles. The members of our family might have different beliefs, and sometimes have disagreements, but we respect each other and know that we bring something unique and important to the family,” the Stevensons wrote. “If our immediate family is separated by a deployment, we know our military family is always present.”