Hope awardee helps military families with losses

Coast Guard Vice Commandant Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara poses with Elaine Savage, Coast Guard recipient of the 2011 Spirit of Hope Award, and Naval Engineering and Support Unit Boston Commanding Officer Cmdr. Jerrold Sgobbo.  Coast Guard photo by Cmdr. Lindsay Weaver.

Coast Guard Vice Commandant Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara poses with Elaine Savage, Coast Guard recipient of the 2011 Spirit of Hope Award, and Naval Engineering and Support Unit Boston Commanding Officer Cmdr. Jerrold Sgobbo. Coast Guard photo by Cmdr. Lindsay Weaver.

Elaine Savage, a Coast Guard civilian employee with Naval Engineering Support Unit Industrial Service Activity Boston, received the Spirit of Hope Award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., today. The award is given annually to a small select group of people that epitomize selfless service and dedicated commitment to the military.

After losing her husband to an Agent Orange-related illness as a result of his duties in the Vietnam War, Savage became an advocate for servicemembers and their families.

Elaine Savage, Coast Guard recipient of the 2011 Spirit of Hope Award.  Coast Guard photo by Cmdr. Lindsay Weaver.

Elaine Savage, Coast Guard recipient of the 2011 Spirit of Hope Award. Coast Guard photo by Cmdr. Lindsay Weaver.

“I was honored to present Ms. Savage this prestigious award after seeing how she selflessly transformed her loss into a source of hope for military families,” said Coast Guard Vice Commandant Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara.

Savage became heavily involved with The Gold Star Wives and dedicated herself to providing support for the spouses and children of those who lost their lives while serving in the armed forces. This included work to ensure Massachusetts veterans were afforded the same benefits veterans received in other states.

She represented Massachusetts veterans at the state house on Veterans Day and at another veterans ceremony at a Red Sox game in Fenway Park. She also read an entire wall of names during a ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, and presented a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

Savage is also involved in The Snowball Express organization, which is dedicated to providing hope and new memories to the children of military heroes that have fallen since 9/11. This organization provides an all-expense-paid holiday gathering to ensure widows and children know they are not alone and will not be forgotten. Through this work, she has helped many cope with the emotionally difficult holiday season.

“It’s truly humbling to realize the positive impact Elaine has had on the lives of military spouses and children coping with the loss of a loved one,” Brice-O’Hara said, adding, “I am extremely proud to count her among our Coast Guard family.”

The Spirit of Hope Award is named after Bob Hope, comedian and actor, who is noted for his work to entertain the U.S. armed forces during World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and other military actions. The award characterizes the values he embodied.

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