Nearly 300 servicemen and women and business professionals from the community attended the Military Citizen of the Year Luncheon hosted by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce on October 9 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.
President & CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber, Bryan K. Stephens, opened the program stating, “This is much more than a lunch, it is an opportunity for the Hampton Roads community to say thanks and honor those who give so much.”
The Vice Mayor of Norfolk, Angelia Williams, read a proclamation signed by Mayor Paul Fraim, stating, “This week recognizes the 239th birthday of the United States Navy, honoring these dates October 9th through the 18th under the heading of Fleet Week.”
The Samuel T. Northern Military Citizen of the Year Award was presented to ET3 Jasmin Lamanna of the Naval Computer & Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic in Norfolk. Lamanna was among 37 nominees for this award, which honors an individual whose personal and public volunteer contributions have had the most positive effect on the Hampton Roads community. The luncheon also gives the Hampton Roads business community the opportunity to show its appreciation for the local military presence.
When presented with the award a very humbled Lamanna said, “I would like to say thank you to my command because they say a sailor is only as good as their leadership.”
ET3 Lamanna, 21, serves in the Maintenance division of the Communications, Maintenance & Engineering department of her command. Lamanna has volunteered more than 400 hours as a member of the Virginia Beach Department of Emergency Medical Services since 2013. This department serves over 430,000 residents and is the largest volunteer-based rescue service in the country. Throughout the year, her off-duty services responding to emergency situations and having a medical presence at various events across the city have saved Virginia Beach approximately $10,000. In addition, Lamanna volunteers as a mentor in the Drug Education for Youth Program that equips adolescents to engage in positive, healthy lifestyles as drug-free citizens and successful leaders in their lives. Through this program, she has been a part of a force to enhance the quality of life for military personnel and their families. Earlier this year, Lamanna served at the Ronald McDonald House preparing home-cooked breakfast through the Comfort Food Program and provided meals for families staying in the Ronald McDonald House. She helped create a memorable and comfortable environment for families in need of a place that feels like home.
The keynote speaker at the luncheon was Congressman Randy Forbes, who represents the 4th Congressional District of Virginia. Since his constituents elected him to Congress in 2001, one of Forbes’ key priorities has been to protect and defend our nation.
Congressman Forbes proclaimed to the military nominees, “We have to remember that with all you do for the community, all the sacrifices you make, you are the backstop of the world.”
As Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Forbes is responsible for the research, development, acquisition, and sustainment of Navy and Marine Corps programs as well as the Air Force's bomber and tanker fleets. In concluding his keynote address, Congressman Forbes spoke about the World War II memorial in Washington D.C., and said, “What is so magical, is you see one of these guys (a veteran) and then you will see a young girl or young boy, normally about 9, 10, 11 years old and they just walk up to them and they look at them, they each look at each other, and they sometimes don’t say anything, but the words they're communicating are the same words the Chamber is telling you today. It is like saying to them ‘thank you for giving us our freedom.’”
Samuel T. Northern was a local businessman who devoted most of his life to strengthening the relationship between the local community and the military. Since 1951, this award has been given annually to recognize the military citizen who has made the most significant contribution in the area of community service. Each year, commands based throughout Hampton Roads are asked to nominate individuals for this honor. Members of the Chamber’s Armed Forces Committee then select the winner based upon their full, active and sustained participation in activities that benefit the community. Nominees are involved in everything from coaching Little League® teams, youth mentoring, fundraising, emergency medical services, and many more community programs.
“Whether it’s on duty or off, the time our military men and women spend serving the community is a gift to us all,” said Gary McCollum, Senior Vice President and Region Manager for Cox Communications’ Virginia System. “We believe in and recognize the value of service and appreciate the opportunity to join with other business leaders in the community to say thank you to the men and women who sacrifice for our well-being.”
"It was such a pleasure to join our community in honoring our local military citizens at this year's Military Citizen of the Year Luncheon,” said Brittany Milliken of BMilliken Photography. She continued, “Thank you to our men and women in uniform for your endless efforts both on and off the clock. This world is a better place because of your selflessness, ambition and large hearts. Wherever you may end up in your life journeys, remember that Hampton Roads is always a place you can call home. Also, a big thank you to the Hampton Roads Chamber and everyone involved for making this event memorable for all. Keep doing big things!"
Thanks to sponsors: KITCO Fiber Optics (Presenting Sponsor); City of Norfolk, USA Living, and Dale Carnegie Training (Gold); Cox Communications (Media); BMilliken Photography (Photography); and JPM Financial Services/John’s Tax Service (Silver).