The Family of Command Sgt. Maj. Fred Tolman were named the 2023 Fort Jackson Family of the Year. (Photo by Nathan Clinebelle)

The winners are: Jackson names top Family, volunteers

By Emily Hileman, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Fort Jackson’s Army Community Service honored those who go above and beyond to make the world around them a better place during the Family and Volunteer of the Year Ceremony, April 18.

Nominees were placed into three categories: Retiree Volunteer of the Year, Family Member of the Year, Civilian of the Year and Fort Jackson Family of the Year. Nominees were nominated by various organizations across the installation from Basic Combat Training brigades to the Religious Support Office.

“Our military families and volunteers serve this nation with passion, love, and purpose,” said Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Fort Jackson commander. “A couple families and several individuals have, without expecting such recognition, set themselves apart as exemplars of the volunteerism cause.”

Even though the families expected no recognition for their selfless acts, each nominee was given a plaque commending them for their effort to go above and beyond to serve their community and those around them.

Nominees for the Fort Jackson Family of the Year were the Tolman Family, consisting of Command Sgt. Maj. Fred Tolman, his wife Kelly and their four children (nominated by 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment); and the Vargas Family, consisting of 2nd Lt. Xavier Vargas, his wife Javonna Vargas and their two children (nominated by the Soldier Support Institute). Although the decision was difficult, the honor and title of Fort Jackson Family of the Year was bestowed upon the Tolman Family.

Nominees for the Fort Jackson Family Member or Civilian of the Year were Crystal Bennett (nominated by the Religious Support Office and Protestant Women of the Chapel), Martina Duncan (nominated by 165th Infantry Brigade), Melina Fink (Nominated by 1st Brigade, 13th Infantry Regiment), Jade Medeiros (nominated by Moncrief Army Health Clinic), Carrie Satterlee (nominated by U.S. Army Institute for Religious Leadership, Fort Jackson), Maurice Schneider (nominated by the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation – Youth Sports), Amy Smith (nominated by U.S. Army Institute for Religious Leadership, Fort Jackson) and Sharrion Sweet (nominated by 165th Infantry Brigade). The honor of Family Member Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Melina Fink and the Civilian Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Amy Smith.


The sole nominee and awardee in the retiree category was Stephan Cutler, who was nominated by the Religious Support Office. Among many other volunteer attributes, Cutler and his wife Susan, invite Soldiers who graduate Basic Combat Training, but have no Family in attendance, into their home for dinner and fellowship, following their BCT graduation.

Each nominee has contributed several hours of their time dedicated to the thoughtful and selfless service of serving others. “Because of the examples they and others set, millions more around the country contribute countless hours of collective volunteer work,” Kelly said. “It’s almost as if service is part of our national identity.”