A family embracing change

family of the year

Coast Guard Vice Commandant VADM Sally Brice-OHara presents the Coast Guard Family of the Year award to the Henley Family at this year’s National Militar Family Award. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Telfair H. Brown, Sr.

The Coast Guardsman Creed challenges every member to “endeavor to be a model citizen in the community that I live in.”

Between training, operations and the need to attend to their own family lives, finding time to be an active contributor to the community can be a challenge for any member. Petty Officer 1st Class Jayon Henley and his family have more than risen to the occasion by representing both the Coast Guard and military families as model citizens wherever they have been stationed.

While everyday challenges and routines can impede our volunteerism and community service, one Coast Guard family stays true to the creed. Their positive attitude and strong civic duty made them an ideal selection for the National Military Family Association’s Coast Guard Family of the Year.

“We look at each move as an adventure and a chance to meet new different people. We try to make each move fun for the kids by visiting new places on the way. It gives us an opportunity for change of scenery and a new life experience,” said Keysha Henley.

Currently stationed in Sitka, Alaska, the Henley’s are heavily involved in their community. Petty Officer Javon Henley volunteers with both the local basketball and soccer teams and Keysha, his wife, is an active board member with the Coast Guard Spouses Association where they welcome and mentor incoming families as well as a volunteer at the children’s school two days a week. Their children, Jaelah and Keyshawn, have taken after their parent’s community involvement. Jaelah coordinated a fundraiser for Japan tsunami victims receiving a personal thank-you letter from the Red Cross and Keyshawn is a member of the Boy Scouts.

No matter what challenges military life throws the Henley’s way, they have adopted a can-do attitude. Personal growth and development are extremely important to the Henley’s and they approach each day with that mentality. Through it all, the family has to come to rely on each other through the good times and bad with an upbeat spirit and willingness to try new things.

“The best part of being a military family is that no matter where we go we always can count on each other for love and support in facing a new place,” said Keysha. “Our family is very close, we tell our children to look as us as their best friends. Also, the opportunity to travel and learn various things helps our family become well rounded.”

During the 2011 Year of the Coast Guard Family, the focus is on improving our military families well being and providing them with the resources to make their lives better. But Families like the Henley’s remind us it is the Coast Guard that benefits from strong military families willing to do their part to answer the call.

It is for these and many other reasons that the Henley’s were recently named the National Military Family Association’s Coast Guard Family of the Year. Congratulations and thanks for your service!

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