As a reservist, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mark Kelsey, 58, volunteered to mobilize for duty as a casualty notification and assistance officer.
"Most soldiers fear the time they will be asked to perform" such a role, Capt. Greg Smith wrote in his nomination letter for Kelsey, noting that "Kelsey understood fully that he would be meeting regularly with families experiencing the tough loss of a loved one, and grieving mightily, but he also knew he could help them cope with trying times and often horrible circumstances."
"He may not be holding a rifle, but in many ways the duty he performs is far more difficult and harder to accomplish," Smith said of a job that is "thankless and invisible."
Like other casualty assistance officers, Kelsey works with families of the fallen to ensure they are connected with support services and benefits programs. Moreover, he worked with local aid agencies, police chaplain systems and charitable organizations to provide additional assistance.
While serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, last year with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Sgt. 1st Class Jarrod Gozy, 33, helped design force protection procedures and was the noncommissioned officer in charge of security at his base's main gate. Locals with appointments at the hospital came through that gate and Gozy helped children feel at ease. He gave them candy, toys and took photographs of them with their families - the printouts he provided often were the first photographs the families possessed.
In addition, he established a foundation that helped sponsor 22 schools and provided supplies for more than 20,000 students and teachers. The foundation also provided 150 beds for the children's ward of the local hospital.
Gozy, a truck driver by training, also looked after his own troops, registering with the Web site Anysoldier.com to arrange for donations from military supporters and passing along the goodies and gifts that arrived. In Germany, where he has been for a year, he sponsored local military children to attend a middle school service project in Poland and served as an adult leader for that effort.