- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Army Officers’ Wives Club of the Greater Washington Area (AOWCGWA) presented 45 scholarships on June 9 at Quarters 1 on Fort Myer, the home of Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and his wife, Sheila Casey.

The scholarships, based on scholastic merit and community involvement, are awarded in three categories - high school seniors, college students 22 years of age or younger, and spouses. They were given to dependents of active and retired Army personnel in a ceremony attended by more than 150 people.

AOWCGWA was founded in 1974 to create a sense of community among military families living in the widespread D.C. suburbs and to provide social and civic activities for members. One of AOWCGWA’s highlights is the scholarship program, financed through a thrift shop the club sponsors at Fort Myer.

Between net sales and donations, the shop generated $128,000 this year, which was divided between the scholarships and several community-service projects. Even in the uncertain economy, the funds raised are higher than last year, which enabled the organization to give a record number of scholarships.

Each student may win the AOWCGWA scholarshiptwice - once in high school and once in college. The scholarship committee - assisted by volunteer readers - uses a blind point system based on grades, extracurricular activities and an essay answering the question “How has your experience as a military family member prepared you for leadership?”

All of the recipients have excellent grades and extensive records of community involvement, and they submitted well-written essays. They are distinguished by their connection with the military community and awareness of how that experience has impacted their lives. Most cited moves to diverse locations that forced them to learn about other cultures, make new friends and become more tolerant of people unlike themselves. Many are alsocivic-minded. The following four recipients expressed an interest in working for the military community in the future.

Jeffrey Thomas, 18, is a graduating senior at Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. He was the systems administrator for the computer lab, was in the Russian Honor Society and will pursue a double major in interactive media at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He said he is interested in game design as a practical teaching tool similar to how it is used in military training.

Simone Rene Posey, 18, a graduating senior at Suitland High School, is typical of the high schoolers selected. She was a member of the National Honor Society and a peer mediator in school and also is a dancer with a specialty in tap. She will pursue a bachelor of fine arts degree in performance at Towson University. Simone’s mother is Sgt. 1st Class Cynthia Mason-Posey, who serves as a retention specialist with the Maryland National Guard. Miss Posey says her mother’s job and demanding schedule have forced her to become self-reliant and also inspired her to organize a dance performance for soldiers returning from Iraq.

Danielle Paul, 21, is one of the college-student recipients. She said she feels deep gratitude for the help and blessings she has received from the Army medical system. Her father calls her a “miracle,” as she was born without a right ear, waswithout hair until puberty and suffers double vision. She has had eight major surgeries, many at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and wants to be a trauma nurse. She is a student at Liberty University, an emergency medical technician in Stafford County, Va., and a tutor for freshman nursing students. She has been recognized by the state of Virginia for her volunteer activities.

One of the spouses who received a scholarship is Jennifer Brock. Her husband, Command Sgt. Maj. Freddie L.T. Brock, is in the Military Police and is stationed at Fort Belvoir. Mrs. Brock is the mother of two teenage girls and a student at George Mason University studying psychology. Her long-term goal is to obtain a master’s degree in social work, which she wants to use to counsel soldiers and work in the Pentagon.

The thrift shop that helps generate the scholarship funds is open to the public; its hours of operation can be found at www.fortmyerthriftshop.org. Information about the Officers’ Wives Club can be found at www.aowcgwa.org.

Linda Bartlett is a writer in Annandale. Her husband is a retired Army colonel.

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