The military community honored some unsung heroes Thursady: military spouses.
"To represent these amazing women and men? That is a huge honor in my life," Bianca Strzalkowski said about military spouses. Raleigh's Strzalkowski is the Military Spouse of the Year.
Sgt. Ron Strzalkowski, Bianca's husband called the award "absolutely awesome. As if I didn't think my life was busy enough - Now I am the active-duty military spouse of the year's...uh...spouse!" he joked.
A mother of three, full-time student and wife of a Marine, Strzalkowski said she'll help those facing it all alone. "When my husband and I were 19, we moved to our first duty station. I knew nothing about the military and he left three months later. I want to help that wife sitting in the house, scared of what her future looks like," she said.
Strzalkowski is the sole volunteer at her local recruiting station's family readiness program, and she's launched a number of other programs including one that delivers meals to new military moms.
"If the family's are not prepared, we cannot be prepared on the battlefield," she said.
Spouses from each branch of the military were honored Thursday. Among them, the first male ever to receive the award. Navy spouse Robert Duncan spoke of the role only a man can play to boys. "They don't want to show they're weak. They're more likely to open up and talk to a male than a female," Duncan said.
Strzalkowski plans to fight for better educational opportunities and portable careers. Despite all she has given up, she says she has received even more from the community."I feel privileged. I couldn't imagine any other life for me or my children," she said.