Soldier of the Year
By Kelly Norton, Volunteer Contributor
What: The State Guard Association of the United States (SGUAS) recently named Karen Holmes, a volunteer member of the Maryland State Defense Force and volunteer for the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region, as "Soldier of the Year." This impressive honor is given to a SGUAS member who has performed commendable service.
When: The award ceremony was held as part of the Defense Support of Civilian Authorities (DSCA) National Symposium & Expo on October 19th.
Where: Charleston, South Carolina
Why: Karen has been a volunteer member of the Maryland Defense Force since 2011, working in support of the Maryland National Guards within the Chaplain's Unit as well as with the Honor Guards and Morale Welfare and Recreation Department.
The Maryland Defense Force is a volunteer uniformed state military agency and one of the 24 State Defense Forces authorized by Congress and the state legislatures. It's primary mission is to provide professional, technical, and military support to the Maryland Army National Guard, the Maryland Air National Guard, and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency. Karen was also recently named as "Soldier of the Year" by the Maryland State Guard Association and the Maryland Defense Force in December 2012 and has been selected to go to the DSCA Symposium to represent the state of Maryland.
The award was nevertheless a complete surprise to Karen, who did not learn about it until the Symposium's black tie event. She was surprised and honored. "When you're going up against 23,000 other soldiers from 21 State Defense Force Units in the country, I really was just like 'Wow'... it took a few weeks to sink in," said Karen.
In addition to her work with the Maryland Defense Force, Karen has been a volunteer with the American Red cross in the National Capital Region since 2008 where she serves as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) lead and assists with mass care for Montgomery County. For several years, Karen has also volunteered with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Prince George's County, Maryland.
During this holiday season of giving, it's so wonderful to hear about people like Karen who give wholeheartedly back to their community. Thank you, Karen, for your outstanding service and congratulations on your well-deserved award!