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FR The Hindbaughs

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spend just a short time with the SFC Charles Hindbaugh family and you learn very quickly why they were selected as AUSA’s 2014 Volunteer Family of the Year. From youngest son Levi (12) to parents Charles and Virginia, service to others is a joint mission. In addition to Levi, daughter PFC Celia, son PFC Acea, Charles III (16), daughter and college student Chalia (22) and Elijah (13) round out the family. In typical Army fashion, dad Charles was already hard at work back at Ft. Bliss, Texas, when I got to meet the Hindbaughs at the AUSA Annual Meeting. Virginia and her children were enjoying well-deserved VIP treatment as they met and shared their story with the meeting attendees.

Let me be honest here. I had three kids and often struggled to balance all the hats military spouses and parents typically wear. So this mom of six totally impressed me. What drives this former Soldier mom, her husband and children to work so hard for other Army families?

Virginia told me that one answer is that she has always been a fixer. If she sees a problem or need, she tries to fix it. “And we always want to make our community better than we found it,” she shared. She credits her volunteer spirit to the example provided by her parents. I got to meet Virginia’s mom Rose who said that she was raised to give back to others and passed on that legacy to her children. Now Virginia is passing on the tradition to her kids.

Listening to the brothers and sisters talk, it sounds as if all six have been volunteering on the installations they have called home since they could walk. Whether it was helping mom make snacks for Reserve units or FRG meetings, or helping at youth and teen centers, contributing has been a cornerstone of this family’s Army life. In Hawaii they led the YMCA Hanaii Program uniting military and international families for cultural exchange. At Fort Bliss Chali started a Relay for Life Team and the boys volunteer with the Miracle League baseball program for special needs children. And it’s not just because mom told them to.

The children told me that they have enjoyed all their volunteer work. Charles told me “I feel like we are making a change, making a difference in our community.” Chalia added, “Our sharing and volunteering encourages other kids to help.” But perhaps Elijah explained their interest in volunteering best – “It’s seeing the happy faces of the other kids, especially the disabled kids, that makes you feel better.” Can’t beat that kind of positive feedback.  And now PFC Acea and PFC Celia are carrying on that volunteer outreach at their first duty stations. The legacy continues.

As Ft. Bliss volunteer coordinator Tefanie Hopper told me, the initiative the Hindbaughs show in filling service gaps and the fact that dad, mom and all six children volunteer, prompted her to nominate them for the award.

All Army families are great, but it is nice to be able to shine a light on one family who truly has gone above and beyond the call of duty. The Hindbaugh family is a first class example of the selfless spirit of the trusted professionals who make our Army. HOOAH!