Washington pays tribute to supporters of military families
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Washington gathered Tuesday night to honor military families and those in their community who help support them at the 10th annual Blue Stars Neighbors Celebration.

The event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hall of Flags was hosted by Blue Star Families, a nonprofit that is dedicated to empowering military families by giving them the resources and support they need. Originally founded in 2009, the group now has more than 30 chapters across the country.

"This is our 10th anniversary, so it’s a super exciting year and because of that, we’re able to amp up the level of excitement," Kathy Roth-Douquet, who is the group's CEO and a military spouse herself, told The Hill. 


Roth-Douquet said one of the most exciting developments this year is the launch of the New York Tri-State Chapter, thanks to a $1 million donation from philanthropist and Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark.

“That’s a real landmark for us,” Roth-Douquet said about the new funds. This year's celebration also gave the group an opportunity to raise awareness about the new chapter, which aims to connect military families with their civilian neighbors through technology and in-person events.

Newmark has been a longtime supporter of veterans and military families. He said he initially got involved with Blue Star Families because he didn’t just want to remember the sacrifice of veterans and their families, he wanted to actually “do something about it.”

"As a nation, we can't forget how much we owe vets," Newmark said.

The nation’s second highest-ranking military officer was on hand for the festivities.

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva said the annual event helps highlight the important work that Blue Star Families does for veterans and their families on a community level.

“This is about helping families that help families,” Selva said.

The celebration featured an awards ceremony recognizing those making a difference in the military community, ranging Newmark and Disney CEO Bob Iger to Americans from communities across the country who went above and beyond in support of their military neighbors.

Susan Masser was honored with this year's Blue Star Neighbors Award. Masser, who was nominated by her neighbor and army spouse Chelle McIntyre-Brewer, was overcome with emotion as she accepted the award, calling it an “honor.”

McIntyre-Brewer credits Massar for saving her daughter’s life when she went into septic shock due to a heart condition and for providing much-needed support for the family during the traumatic experience.

“Tonight is all about celebrating people who have relationships with military families, support them, encourage them and allow them to serve as well,” she said before the awards ceremony.

One of the highlights of the celebration was the participation of some of D.C.'s celebrity chefs, who teamed up with chefs from different branches of the Armed Forces. Among the culinary stars on hand were chef Chris Clime of PassionFish, Kyle Bailey of The Salt Line, David Guas of Bayou Bakery, and the night's mixologist, Todd Thrasher of Tiki TNT.