Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Alex Van’tLeven, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
One service member from each branch of service received the Washington State American Legion Spirit of Service award during the 99th annual Washington American Legion convention held at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick, Wash., July 21.
The awardee’s, and their senior enlisted supervisors, attended an award ceremony where they were presented the Spirit of Service award by the American Legion State Commander Wayne Elston, and the Spirit of Service Committee Chairman Jake Cabuag. Later in the evening the service members were honored during a formal banquet.
“I personally feel, and I know there’s a lot of us military retirees who feel the same way, I feel it’s time we start doing more to honor our military folks,” said Cabaug. “A lot of times it’s just taken for granted. Our goal in the American Legion is to recognize the E-6 and below in each branch of service, and to recognize them publicly and give them more visibility, give their branch of service more visibility.”
The award is presented to E-6 and below service members who excel in military professionalism and community volunteerism. Also receiving the award are members from the local emergency response and law enforcement communities.
“Of course we want the supervisors to look for military professionalism in their duties,” said Cabaug. “But the main quality we’re looking for is what they do for the community and the service that they present to the community their stationed with.”
The award process begins in late January when a notice is sent to the command senior enlisted member for each branch of service. The command then follows the award criteria and selects the most qualified service member.
“I’m really glad that my leadership did seek me out and saw what I was doing,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Bryan P. Kamphaus, assigned to the 92nd Logisitics Readiness Squadron out of Fairchild Air Force Base. “I’m humbled to be here. It’s a great opportunity to come out and interact with the other branches, meet people, and establish a network.”
The Washington State American Legion is currently the only state that presents a state level Spirit of Service Award to each branch of service.
“What I don’t think people realize… is what the military can offer by you giving a little bit of time to your country,” said Naval Base Kitsap Command Master Chief James Willis, who received the award on behalf of Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Lawrence Jasper, who is assigned to Naval Base Kitsap. “By having these Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen going into these communities and helping out, whether it’s in a homeless shelter, a charity like Toy’s for Tots, or something as simple as volunteering in a soup kitchen, they’re engaging that community and the young people in it.”
This year’s awardees ask that everyone get involved.
“I challenge everyone to go out and make someone else’s life better, even if it’s just a simple gesture of asking how their day is going,” said Kamphaus.