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NEWS | Sept. 13, 2023

JBLE members recognized during VPCC annual breakfast

By Senior Airman Mikaela Smith 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce hosted a military recognition breakfast, on Sept. 7th, 2023. The annual event highlighted the enduring partnership between the VPCC and the military community. 

During the event, Bob McKenna, VPCC president, noted five branches call the Peninsula home making the military a significant part of the community.

“The Hampton Roads Region and the Virginia Peninsula have a very significant military presence, and we are very proud of this,” Mckenna said. “…This annual breakfast strengthens the important partnership between [the] military and the business community by publicly recognizing the fact that military members are not a separate community, but an integral component of our region.”

This year, the VPCC keynote speaker Gen. Mark Kelly, commander Air Combat Command, recognized five military service members.

“Our best and brightest military members often become our best and brightest citizens,” said Kelly. “They have in the past and they will in the future… Leadership is not a rank you hold on your shoulders or sleeves. It’s a character of your service, [stepping up] when there’s a gap that needs to be filled.”

Among those recognized for their contributions to the Peninsula community was Staff Sgt. Renaya Salmon, 439th Supply Chain Operations Squadron mission capable supervisor, and Staff Sgt. Natasha Mason, 93d Signal Brigade religious affairs specialist. Salmon and Mason were both celebrated for giving back to the community through their volunteer efforts.

Salmon has volunteered over 200 hours this past year, striving to help those around her in any way she can.

“I love helping people,” said Salmon. “Whether that’s at a homeless shelter or advocating for others, I want to give back to the community. As a military member that lives in the community, if I can provide a lending hand, I’m going to.”

In Mason’s free time, the Fort Eustis Soldier enjoys volunteering and mentoring the youth in the surrounding community.

“Volunteering within the community holds special significance for military members like me, as it offers an opportunity to extend our service beyond our duty calls,” said Mason. “Growing up, my family didn’t have much, but we always found ways to contribute to our community. Now, being in a position to make a difference, giving back is second nature.”

McKenna explained, “The annual breakfast is a small measure of the respect and gratitude the community can give to those who serve and sacrifice in the defense of our great nation.” He continued to say “The VPCC is a proud partner of the military and will continue to recognize the contributions of those who strive to bring the community closer together.”