Christine Lee, Grand Prairie Reporter
Military Spouse magazine has names Grand Prairie's Christine Gilbreath the first-ever National Guard Miliary Spouse of the Year.
A North Texas volunteer has been named the first National Guard's Military Spouse of the Year.
Christine Gilbreath, a volunteer at the Redmond Taylor Heliport in Grand Prairie, is one of the six top finalists in Military Spouse magazine's National Military Spouse of the Year competition.
This year, the magazine added the National Guard to the list of military divisions in the competition.
Magazine co-founder Babette Maxwell said Gilbreath received a lot more nominations than an average candidate.
"Normally, you just kind of get a glimpse, but for Christine, we got the whole picture, so it was kind of unique in that," she said. "We don't normally get nominees like that."
Gilbreath was in the Army on active duty in 1993, maintaining Chinook helicopters in Germany. In 2003, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
"My husband was deployed in Iraq at the time," she said.
Gilbreath doesn't let the disease get in the way of helping others. For the past five years, she has worked with Maj. Randy Stillinger to help families of those who serve in the 2-149th Aviation Battalion.
Many of the people who nominated Christine for the Spouse of the Year recognition mentioned her work after the crew of Red River 44 did in September 2008.
"We lost seven of our soldiers that went down in a helicopter in Southern Iraq," Stillinger said. "She was one of the first people to be one the scene to help me sort out a lot of the issues. She was there, I think that six o'clock in the morning, and she was able to help me -- not only help me and take care of my troops, which were responding to the incident, but also, she was right there on the spot to assist with the families of the fallen."
"Having her there and being able to respond when the families needed her the most has been just, truly, just tremendous for us," he said.
Gilbreath said she hoped the recognition from the magazine would allow her to fulfill her dream. She wants to launch an orientation program that can help new military spouses across the country.
"It's all in one place -- one-stop shopping -- and when they leave that weekend, they have the tools and the knowledge and the resources to be independent dependents," Gilbreath said.
The winner of National Military Spouse of the Year will be announced in Washington, D.C., on May 10.