Military personnel honored for volunteer efforts

Six members of the U.S. Armed Forces were honored Aug. 22 during The American Legion National Convention in Reno for their outstanding volunteer efforts outside of their military responsibilities.

The Spirit of Service Awards were first established by The American Legion at its 2000 National Convention. Each of the military branches selects an outstanding junior enlisted member to receive this distinguished award based on off-duty volunteerism.

This year’s recipients:

U.S. Army Spec. Virginia A. Constable. As a volunteer instructor for the Health Professions Scholarship Program in Fort Knox, she contributed to educating future Army leaders, exhibiting exceptional volunteer service, and enhancing the US Army Medical Department and the local community. In 2016, she served as a member of the “Funeral Honors Mission” and rendered final honors to 25 veterans, achieving the highest grade of excellence from all 25 families and funeral directors.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Robin Stephens. In 2016, she provided 624 hours as a volunteer EMT for Virginia Beach Medical Services. As a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate, she volunteers to aid and support victims of sexual assault in the Hampton Roads area. Her selfless dedication has earned two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals as well as the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

U.S. Marine Corps Corp. Justin Ahasteen. He provided over 430 hours of community service to a multitude of meaningful organizations while also receiving the Presidential Volunteer Service Award with Silver Distinction.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jordan Suchon. Serving as Base Elizabeth City’s Volunteer Captain, she has planned, organized and served as the Coast Guard leader in many community service events. Recently, she was awarded the Coast Guard Military Outstanding Volunteer Service medal for her 355 hours of community service. She was also nominated for the Greater Elizabeth City, Area Chamber of Commerce “Women of Excellence” Program.

Air National Guard Sr. Airman Allenesha Smith. Working as a school nurse in the poverty stricken historic Northeast Kansas City Public School District, she has coordinated with the Kansas City Health Department for more than 100 students to meet compliance standards with immunizations. She has worked with several organizations to provide free hygiene products and dental care to students. She has also taken up the volunteer task as coach of three sports, providing structure and a safe environment.

U.S. Air Force Sr. Airmen Kalynn Mitchell. Ever the humanitarian, she dedicated 144 hours comforting and engaging seniors without family at a local hospice center. She’s assisted with numerous food drives for Tucson’s homeless while also participating as a storyteller at the Intensive Care Unit in the children’s ward. Acting as a caretaker at an animal rescue center, she helped find life companions for hundreds of homeless pets.