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Nominate a soldier for Service Member of the Year

Apr. 13, 2013 - 10:55AM   |  
Master Sgt. Monekia Denkins, the 2011 Soldier of the Year, is class president of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. She is about to finish up her time at the academy, as well as her bachelor's degree in liberal arts, which she plans to advance with a master's in leadership studies.
Master Sgt. Monekia Denkins, the 2011 Soldier of the Year, is class president of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. She is about to finish up her time at the academy, as well as her bachelor's degree in liberal arts, which she plans to advance with a master's in leadership studies. (Colin Kelly / Staff)
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HOW TO NOMINATE

Who's eligible: Active-duty or reservists through August 2013.
Achievement criteria: Positive actions performed on and off duty during 2012.
The prize: A trip to Washington, D.C., for two, culminating in an award ceremony on Capitol Hill. The winner is also featured in Army Times.
Who can nominate: Fellow service members, commanders, parents and spouses
How to nominate: militarytimes.com/smoy
Deadline: April 28

Nominations are open for the 2013 Service Member of the Year award and Military Times is looking for everyday heroes, soldiers who inspire the men and women they work with just by doing what they do.

Fellow service members, supervisors and commanding officers — as well as parents and spouses — can nominate any active duty, National Guard or Reserve soldier who will be serving through August 2013 and who demonstrated not only exemplary service but made a significant impact within his or her community in 2012.

Winners will receive a trip for two to Washington, D.C., in July, where they will tour the nation's capital and attend an award ceremony with the military's top leaders.

“I would say that the easiest way to see the impact it can have on your career is just to go through the guest list at the ceremony,” said Sgt. Steven Davidson, the 2012 Soldier of the Year. He mentioned Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler, U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Jacobs and Army Reserve commander Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley.

“It kind of puts you up top,” he added, in terms of your visibility within the Army. That name recognition could pay off later, he said.

Davidson is squad leader with the Army Reserve's 350th Human Resources Company out of Grand Prairie, Texas. He's also a sophomore studying anthropology at the University of North Texas, though since winning the award he has decided to go officer and is currently deciding whether he'd like to finish his education at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, or transfer to join the ROTC program at the University of Utah.

Master Sgt. Monekia Denkins, the 2011 Soldier of the Year, caught up with Army Times from the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, where she is class president. Denkins is just about to finish up her time at the academy, as well as her bachelor's degree in liberal arts, which she plans to advance with a master's in leadership studies.

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“It's not that I'm trying to retire, it's about bettering myself,” Denkins said. “[The award] just made me more aware of how I can affect not only the Army, but the entire military and women everywhere.”

Denkins mentioned that soldiers recognize her as Soldier of the Year all of the time, particularly at the academy. During a class presentation on leadership, one of her fellow soldiers included news clippings about her award in his slideshow.

“I was shocked,” she said. “He never said anything about it, but he said as he was looking for leaders — especially female leaders — and his wife came across the articles and said, ‘This would be perfect.'”

Looking back, Denkins summed up her SMOY experience as a genuine morale boost.

“It's an excellent opportunity for the services as a whole, as you bring everybody together, and you show what their performances are,” Denkins said. “Even though we're in different branches, it shows that we're all in the same fight. We're doing great and wonderful things all the time.”

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