By Ms. Wendy Arevalo
1st Theater Sustainment Command
For Lori Rozhon, taking care of the Soldiers and spouses at 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) is like taking care of family.
Since becoming Soldier and Family Readiness Group (SFRG) leader at 1st TSC, she has implemented several ideas to benefit Soldiers and spouses in the unit. Her dedication to the 1st TSC is what led to her being selected as Armed Forces Insurance (AFI) Military Spouse of the Year for Fort Knox, Ky. in February.
Military spouses from bases nationwide compete for the distinction of earning the AFI Military Spouse of the Year title. To win at the installation level, votes are placed online via AFI’s Military Spouse of the Year website. The respective winner advances into consideration for the Top 18 military spouses.
Theresa Scott, family readiness support assistant, 1st TSC, nominated Rozhon for the title.
“Her dedication and selfless service have been extraordinary,” said Scott. “She continues to leave a lasting footprint on the lives of Soldiers, civilians and family members.”
As a SFRG leader, Rozhon is the support network between the unit and families, passing on accurate and timely information to Soldiers' family members.
In addition, she leads SFRG meetings, participates in fundraisers, serves as key caller, runs the 1st TSC spouse’s Facebook page, mans the information/snack table at deployments and redeployments, picks up donations from the United Service Organization (USO) at Fort Campbell, and organizes monthly dinners for single Soldiers and families of deployed service members.
Rozhon said the biggest chunk of her time goes to answering emails, phone calls, and texts from spouses and family members. She gets calls asking for everything from requests for official information to referrals for resources in the community.
"I love being available for spouses because that's part of why I volunteer," she said. "[As a spouse] our time is valuable and I appreciate their time,” she added. “So, if they call me at night and that's when they can reach out, then that's when I give back. When spouses reach out, you have to reciprocate because otherwise they fall through the cracks,” she said.
“You want to make sure they feel included, and thought of, and appreciated,” she added.
In early January 2020, after Iran launched missile attacks at two Iraqi air bases hosting U.S. troops, Rozhon and a 1st TSC Soldier phoned 116 family members of deployed 1st TSC service members to let them know their Soldier was OK.
“We were there all day from 8 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m.,” said Rozhon. “I had to arrange for someone to get my kids. I felt that it was important, especially being in the same position with my spouse equally being in threat; I felt like we needed to get that done.”
The North Chicago native is married to Lt. Col. Chris Rozhon, Strategic Operations and Plans (SOaP) chief of operations, 1st TSC, who is currently deployed in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The couple has been married for 20 years and have four children, aged 9 to 18.
Her husband said he is impressed by all she does for 1st TSC, especially while juggling her own responsibilities.
“I think it’s amazing that she has the time to balance raising four kids and volunteering. “She always seems to have time for the families of 1st TSC,” he said.
She is no stranger to the military lifestyle. In addition to being a veteran herself, (she served five years as a logistics officer), she was also a military dependent and the daughter of a Navy warrant officer who served as a physician’s assistant in Vietnam.
Her mother volunteered as a Navy ombudsman, doing exactly what Rozhon does, but with Navy families.
“I remember going to meetings with her as a kid and coloring in the corner with all the other little Navy brats,” Rozhon said. “My dad was deployed quite a bit on ships.”
In August 2019, when she arrived at Fort Knox, she had just lost her father (he passed away in June 2019 from complications of Agent Orange). She said he was the reason she decided to volunteer at the 1st TSC.
“I was grieving, and I’m still grieving,” Rozhon said. “But, life goes on and you want to do good, and I know that if he was here, he’d want me to do good,” she said. “I would want to volunteer anyway, but I had that choice of falling down that trap of really grieving or being sad, or I could still do that and do something good, so it was one of those decisions I had to make,” she said.
Capt. Mark Schneider, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 1st TSC, noted how Lori has made a positive impact on the families in the unit.
“Lori has gone above and beyond for the 1st Theater Sustainment Command's Soldier and Family Readiness Group,” Schneider said. “Since becoming the SFRG co-leader, she has implemented several new SFRG events that benefit both Soldiers and families in the unit, such as serving meals at the barracks for single Soldiers. She has helped make the connection between the members of the 1st TSC, including families, even stronger."
The idea to bring hot meals to single Soldiers in the barracks once a month is just one of the new ideas she has implemented at the SFRG. She said the idea was actually passed to her by Jennifer Sullivan, wife of Maj. Gen. John Sullivan, commanding general of 1st TSC.
“Anyone can join in, it’s just a time to let them know that the SFRG is also for single Soldiers,” Rozhon said. “We bring the food to them so they don’t have to walk to the DFAC [dining facility],” she said. I bring my kids too; I feel like I’m taking care of family, like a family dinner.”
When she’s not helping out at the 1st TSC, she keeps busy with her children’s activities, and taking care of her mom, who lives in Chicago. She visits her one weekend a month and they volunteer together as well—doing Meals on Wheels or serving as a greeter at the VA Medical Center in North Chicago, where her father worked until retirement.
Rozhon has a culmination of 1500 volunteer hours in 2019 in the community, 500 of which are in the 1st TSC.
“Lori is a great volunteer with our organization and the local community,” said Lt. Col. James Crocker, commander, Special Troops Battalion (STB), 1st TSC. “She makes each Soldier and family member she talks to feel appreciated and always goes the extra mile.”
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION