The Fort Bragg community recognized its most giving members during the quarterly Iron Mike Awards ceremony Tuesday at the Fort Bragg Club. During the event, Lt. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commanding general, presented Lisa Cyrulik with the Gold Star pin, for volunteering over 1,000 hours to various organizations.
Also awarded were 26 Iron Mike pins, 11 Bronze Star pins, and two Silver Star pins.
Alice Stephens, ACS, Installation Volunteer Services, who introduced Allyn, welcomed spectators.
“We all know how important it is to be a part of Team Bragg and to serve at the center of the universe. But one of the things that makes it extra special is the volunteer spirit and the commitment to make a difference that embodies what we recognize here today at the Iron Mike awards,” Allyn said to the crowd of nearly 200 participants and spectators.
“For all of our heroes who are here, particularly our Families who are volunteers, thanks for what you do every day to make a difference for Team Bragg and for the Families and Soldiers who serve here,” Allyn added.
He pointed out Fort Bragg’s commitment to serving the country through its various deployments, including the past 10 years, which he referred to as a “revolving door,” as units deploy, redeploy and re-train, before deploying again.
“We’ve been doing a lot of deployments for a long time at Fort Bragg and it has placed an enormous demand on our Families and on the volunteers who support those Families in every facet of what we do,” Allyn said. “Throughout all of this that we’ve done, and it’s been true since well before 2001, when we started this recognition, it’s the volunteer spirit that is a steadfast cornerstone to our ability to continue to do what we do.”
Allyn pointed out that the post has 3,800 volunteers on post, who have contributed more than 986,000 hours of their time as volunteers.
For Cyrulik, volunteering has a special meaning.
“It means giving back,” she said. “The Army gives us so much every day and I get to give back by volunteering. I’ve been volunteering for 16 years and, selfishly, I get something out of it.
Cyrulik, who volunteers for the Armed Services YMCA, in addition to her husband’s unit, 1st Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade “Wolfpack,” said that volunteering provides a good feeling for her as well.
“It’s a good feeling to give your time to organizations. My key organization that I volunteer for outside of our unit is the ASYMCA and I sell comfort quilts for the children of deployed Soldiers. It’s nice knowing you can give something nice for those kids and it makes it a little easier for them,” she said.
Carolyn Helms, who received the Silver Star pin, said she contributes more than 40 hours a week to volunteering. Helms is the sole volunteer for the Warrior Transition Battalion.
“I’ve never said no,” she said. “My philosophy is, there is no ‘no,’ so if they ask me to do something, I do it, whether it’s a night, weekend or a regular day. It’s a joy to work with the WTB because of the wounded Soldiers.”
She said an added bonus for her is making the wounded warriors feel better.
“Sometimes they don’t feel as important as Soldiers who were not wounded. I get to talk to them on a daily basis, I get to work with the command cell and as a volunteer, I’m treated as one of the battalion. It’s very fulfilling to be a volunteer,” Helms said.
“The people who come out and volunteer are the ones who want to support the Families. They have that heart and they want to make a difference in the lives of the Soldiers and their Families,” Stephens said. “It’s important that we continue to support our volunteers and we have the best volunteers of all services.”