March 3, 2016 --
The votes are in, military spouses have spoken and their choice for the 2016 Military Spouse of the Year gives Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany its second consecutive-year win.
In an announcement handed down by Military Spouse Magazine, Danesha Aikens, military spouse/ administrative assistant, Family Advocacy Program, Marine Corps Community Services, MCLB Albany, now reigns as the installation’s 2016 Military Spouse of the Year.
Now in its ninth year, the award honors military spouses from all branches of service and all ranks and was created to recognize those spouses in the military community who have gone above and beyond in their service, advocacy and support of our nation’s service members and military families, according to the letter announcing Aikens’ victory.
Aikens commented on some details about the selection process and her feelings about being selected and honored by her military spouse peers.
“The Military Spouse of the Year is an annual event,” Aikens said. “We had a few spouses who came up with the idea. Because we honor our service members and they’re recognized all of the time, a lot of people forget about the spouses. So, they came up with the idea of recognizing spouses.
“It’s something (the sponsors require) peers to do,” she emphasized. “So, to be (selected), you have to be nominated by another spouse and you have to actually be married (to a service member). So basically, you have to be a cardholder in order to qualify.
“I (was nominated and) won from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany this year,” Aikens pointed out, while smiling. “I also ranked in the top 18 of the (military) spouses in the nation; and, of those 18, I ranked number three overall of spouses for the Marine Corps.
“Last year we had a winner as well,” she added. “So, this is our second year having a winner on this installation. Nicole Onuska was the 2015 Military Spouse of the Year for Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
“It is not divided by rank,” she clarified. “It is not an officer’s spouse and an enlisted spouse nomination. It is a military-spouse nomination. In the end, we are all spouses. As for me, I assist any spouse -- enlisted or officer.”
Staff Sgt. Danette Williams, supply chief, Okinawa, Japan, weighed in on the impact Aikens has had on her family, and why she feels the honoree deserved the nomination.
“Danesha Aikens is a remarkable woman with a sincere spirit of generosity,” Williams said. “As a single parent in the military, the demands of work often require assistance. Danesha came into my life at a much-needed time and became that home away from home for us.
“I’ve lost count of the times she stepped in to watch my child,” Williams recalled. “From surprise gifts for my daughter, words of encouragement and simply being there, Danesha has been an anchor and a true friend.
“Even as we are now stationed thousands of miles away, she still makes time to check in on our well-being,” she added. “I consider it a privilege to have her in our lives and I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award.”
Another military spouse, Amanda Ocheltree, former board member for the Enlisted Spouses Club, MCLB Albany, said she is “excited” about Aikens’ recent win.
“At the time that I was on the board of the Enlisted Spouses Club, I was the events coordinator,” Ocheltree said. “But, I met Danesha much earlier than that. (In fact,) she was the reason I joined the Enlisted Spouses Club.
“At the time,” Ocheltree recalled. “I was working for the Department of Defense as a facilitator for the Transition Assistance Program and I met her in the office there.
“Danesha became a very good friend,” she continued. “She did everything from telling me about different programs that were available; she introduced me to the New Parent Support Program; she was fabulous. She regularly posted online on different Facebook groups the resources that were available, upcoming classes that were being put on to help spouses; she worked out a Lifestyle, Insight, Networking, Knowledge and Skills program or if there were any alerts that we should be aware of.
“She was very proactive in trying to reach out to anyone who comes on base or even people who have been there for a long time to help them find things in the community, on base or even learning about their resources as a military spouse,” Ocheltree pointed out.
Ocheltree gave her opinion about Aikens’ winning the honor and representing MCLB Albany as the 2016 Military Spouse of the Year.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who deserves it more,” she concluded. “She’s fantastic; she works very hard and she puts her heart into helping any spouse who she comes into contact with. I just hope she enjoys it.”
Aikens said her win would not have been possible without the support of the many people who voted for and encouraged her during this entire process.
She expressed her gratitude to the base community, to Marine Corps Logistics Command personnel and to military spouses for recognizing her and entrusting her to reign as the people's choice to represent MCLB Albany for 2016.