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Patriotic Article
Military

By Army Capt. Michelle Lunato

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Signal Soldiers Gets Woman of the Year Award
(July 1, 2010)

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Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cynthia Thomas, enterprise officer in charge, enjoys the fresh air at the Readiness Training Center in Fort McCoy, Wis.
 BAGRAM, Afghanistan (June 28, 2010) -- Deploying for the first time comes with a number of uncertainties and expectations, but Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cynthia P. Thomas never could have guessed the news she received upon getting into Afghanistan.

Within days of arriving at Bagram Airfield, Thomas, the enterprise system administrator for Task Force Thunder, was told she had been awarded ‘Woman of the Year' by the Midlands chapter of the American Business Women's Association.

In between her work as the commercial systems manager at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, a Reserve signal Soldier with the 359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade and the mother of three, Thomas served as chapter president, treasurer and chairwoman of several committees over the past 16 years.
The award, which is only earned via nomination, “is all about your contribution to the community and how you help and support others,” said Thomas.

Though the title came as a surprise to Thomas, the principle behind it did not. “I didn't expect it at all, but it goes to show you that when you have a genuine concern for others, it doesn't matter where you are. Your work won't go unnoticed,” said Thomas. “If it's genuine, you will get recognized.”
Since Thomas was already in Afghanistan when the award was announced, her 18-year-old daughter Sherrise, accepted the recognition in her place. My friends told me she was very professional and spoke like a mature young lady, said Thomas. “She brought tears of joy to my eyes,” said Pamela Beasley, a friend of Thomas.

The tears of joy did not all come from my friends, said Thomas. “My daughter said she was proud of me, and I didn't expect to hear that from a high school senior.” Young people don't always think outside of themselves, but she did, and I couldn't be more proud of her, said Thomas.

This mutual support is literally a tenet at the Thomas household. “We have a rule in our house that we may not like the activities each other do but as long as they are positive, we support each other,” said Thomas.

And for the last six years, Thomas has stuck to her rule by attending every football game of her son's and cheerleading competition of her daughter's. “I never missed a game or competition unless I had military duty,” said Thomas.

Now that military duty has taken Thomas across the world, Thomas cannot support her children as much as she likes, but she knows that they understand. “They know I love the military. They don't particularly care that I leave, but they support me,” said Thomas.

The bottom line of all this circular support is team work, said Thomas. “It doesn't matter if you are in a war zone, back home or at the beach; it is about being a team.”

One of the team efforts Thomas was working on before she deployed was her endeavor with Sister Care, an organization that helps kids from abused homes. I have a passion for kids and think everyone should be given equal opportunities and treated fairly, said Thomas. Not supporting the community is just not a wise consideration, said Thomas. “These children are our future leaders.”

Deploying to Afghanistan did not restrict Thomas' need and ability to support the community; it just changed her avenue of approach. Young Soldiers come to me and ask me a lot of personal and professional questions, said Thomas. “I guess they look at me like a role model, and it makes me feel good that I am a comfort and ear to them.”

Thomas is not just a role model to the youth, but her peers as well, said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Stephen A. Campbell, enterprise system non-commissioned officer in charge, Task Force Thunder. “She blends quality traits like integrity, leadership, and core values, all the while projecting nurturing and mentoring skills.”

When asked to assign specific skills and traits to her roles as mother, business woman and Soldier, Thomas said that each job had similar skills and duties.

“The similarities are all about passion, being a good leader and knowing how to treat people.”
Article and photo by Army Capt. Michelle Lunato
359th Signal Brigade
Copyright 2010

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