Oct. 27, 2010

Jeff Gordon honors Guard families at Martinsville

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen        
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

MARTINSVILLE, Va.— The Virginia National Guard Family Program office welcomed 40 Soldiers and family members to the NASCAR Sprint Series, Tums 500 race at the Martinsville Speedway Oct. 24 to enjoy the race and hang out in the National Guard Racing hospitality trailer outside the track prior to the green flag. The outing was dedicated to honoring the families of Guardsmen and served as a way to give back to the Family members.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/Amp Energy Chevrolet meets with Soldiers and their family members before the Sprint Cup Series Tums 500 in Martinsville Oct 24. The Soldiers and family members of the Virginia National Guard were guests of the Family Program office. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

The Soldiers and their families spent the morning inside the National Guard Racing V.I.P. area where they were treated to snacks and soft drinks and were able to mingle with fellow Virginia Guardsmen. While they waited for the race to start, the guests were greeted by Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Dupont/Honoring National Guard Families Chevrolet with a special National Guard Families decal on the hood of the car. Gordon held a Q&A session with the guests, posed with the group for a photo and signed a few die-cast cars and memorabilia, which were raffled off to the guests later that day.

Gordon noted the importance of the role of National Guard families by saying, “Our National Guard Soldiers sacrifice so much to defend our country’s freedom, and this wouldn’t be possible without the support of their Families. That’s why it’s important we recognize the family members for being a constant source of encouragement.”

“Martinsville is always a strong track for the DuPont/National Guard team so we look to keep the car up front and show our appreciation for the family members of our heroic National Guard Soldiers,” he added.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the No. 88 Amp Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, also made a surprise visit to the National Guard area and took time to answer questions, pose for a few photos and autograph some paraphernalia for raffle before heading to the driver’s pre-race meeting.

 

Soldiers and family members of the Virginia National Guard pose for a photo Oct. 24 with driver of the no. 24 National Guard Chevrolet before the Sprint Cup Series Tums 500 In Martinsville. The NASCAR racer took twenty minutes to meet with the guests before the race. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

The Soldiers and Family members in attendance were selected to join in the festivities by a lottery held earlier in the month.  Vickie Sais, State Family Program director, sent an email to the Soldiers and the family readiness group leaders asking for volunteers to attend and was flooded with more requests than she had tickets, so the lottery system was the obvious way to decide who would be able to come to Martinsville.

“We gathered the names of people, who wanted to come, and Virginia Army Guard chief of staff Col. Rob McMillin did a drawing and then we notified everybody with the results,” said Sais. “We thought it was the fairest way to do it, and we got a good mix of units, a good mix of people and their kids.”

The Virginia National Guard Family Program delivers a wide range of services to military families in the Commonwealth. Like the Virginia National Guard, the family program is community based and is designed to support all military families in Virginia regardless of the branch or component of the service member.

“The program is one of those things that adds great value to the importance of being in the Guard and shows that we care about the families and their service members,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. “It’s not just about the Soldiers in uniform, but it’s about the total family.”

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