“I am absolutely honored to receive this award today. Thank you so much. Just because one person wins the award today, doesn’t take away the fact that these four individuals have done amazing work in the community. I am honored to be standing among them,” expressed Robert John Zaruba, the 2020 Winner of the Hampton Roads Chamber Military Citizen of the Year award. Zaruba has donated more than 800 hours of volunteer service while serving on the Virginia Beach Little League Board. While accepting the award, Zaruba expressed his gratitude and shared personal stories on why service is so near to his heart. “Sports have been a huge part of my life, and getting to help young kids play sports and see how it benefits every aspect of their lives is so rewarding. I’m not blessed with children of my own yet, but I feel like I have 150 kids in my life,” said Zaruba. He thanked his family, his mentors, and his fellow nominees.
The Hampton Roads Chamber hosted the annual Military Citizen of the Year Awards on October 15th, 2020. Ron Lewis, Vice-Chair Military Affairs of the Hampton Roads Chamber introduced the nominees. Vance Stone Breeland, with the Airborne Command and Control Squadron 120. He is honored for his volunteer work with the Virginia Sun Devils Youth Sports Association. April Marie Crews is with the Naval Network Warfare Command, Suffolk, and is being honored for her volunteer work with Hampton Roads Meals on Wheels and the Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center. Casey L. King is with Assault Craft Unit Two and is being honored for his work as an Associate Deacon with Kempsville Christian Church and Trail Life USA. Latisha Seeagars is with Carrier Strike Group Four, and is being honored for her department to support rapidly fluctuating operational requirements within the pandemic environment. Robert John Zaruba is with Command Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic and is honored for his volunteer work with Virginia Beach Little League, Virginia Beach Storm Baseball, and the Aaron Zaruba Foundation.
We were pleased to welcome Rear Admiral Charles “Chip” Rock to speak to the nominees. “This is the first event I have attended since March, and I am pleased to be here to recognize and celebrate these fine men and women nominated today. This event is certainly bringing us back to our new normal, and I am grateful we can come together in a safe way,” said Rock. Rock went on to speak on the recent 245th birthday of the US Navy, and commended the servicemen and women in the audience for being a link in the long chain of the naval legacy. Rear Admiral Chip Rock ended his comments by saying, “Thank you for honoring and recognizing the goodness that these sailors are bringing to Hampton Roads. I am honored to be here today”.
Congresswoman Elaine Luria delivered the keynote address. Luria represents Virginia’s Second Congressional District. Before her election in 2018, Representative Luria served two decades in the Navy, retiring at the rank of Commander. “As a Navy veteran, I am proud to be from Hampton Roads. The military is such an integral part of this region,” expressed Luria. She addressed the nominees, thanking them for their service, and commending them for their excellence in community service. “You all are leaders in so many ways, at work and in your community. We are recognizing you for all of the outstanding work. Congratulations!” said Luria.
On behalf of the US Chamber of Commerce, Bryan K. Stephens presented Congresswoman Elaine Luria with the Spirit of Enterprise Award. The Spirit of Enterprise Award recognizes the support of pro-business legislation and commitment to the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward. _____________________________________________________________________________________
A special thank you to Navy Mutual, our Military Presenting Program Partner. Thank you to our sponsors, Navy Mutual, USAA, ADS Inc., GEICO, the Hampton Roads Workforce Council, and the City of Norfolk for making this event possible.