2018 Family of The Year: The gift of love, the love of giving

49th Public Affairs Detachment
Story by Sgt. Michelle Blesam

Date: 12.05.2018
Posted: 12.05.2018 07:12
News ID: 302255
2018 Family of The Year: The gift of love, the love of giving

Sgt. 1st Class Wesley Bevel rushed to his house, yelling for his wife, Jessica, to call 911. The expectant mother instinctively ran back inside to ensure the children had gotten out as smoke engulfed the kitchen. Bevel and his neighbors battled the fire inside. Jessica used the hose to help fight the flames. Shortly, the fire department arrived and took control of the scene. The fire on March 28 left about a $120,000 worth of damage and left everything they owned covered in smoke and soot.

The Bevels’ neighbors and friends came together and comforted them in their grief. The fire displaced the family, but their friends, the Gearys, took them in immediately. There would be much to do to get the family back into their home.

“We still had everything in there and the house needed to be gutted for the contractors to come in,” said Wesley, a paratrooper assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “The neighbors right next door had their church group come in one night and boxed up everything, and moved it into the pods and the garage for us to go through.”

It was precisely that spirit of community and generosity that spurred the Bevels, recently moved back into their home, to then support a family displaced by Hurricane Florence in September. Record-setting floods chased another Soldier’s family from their home, and the Bevels took them in.
The Bevel family has long-played an active role in their community. Wesley coached the intramural softball team and serves as an assistant coach to the Fayetteville Soccer Club. Jessica participates in several organizations and groups, including unit Family Readiness Group events.

For their actions, the family received the nomination for, and subsequently was awarded, the 2018 Fort Bragg Family of the Year. The family received the award at the Main Post Chapel during the annual Christmas tree lighting event, Nov. 29, 2018. To honor the family, officials asked them to pull the lever activating the bright lights of the 24-foot-tall tree.

“They have opened their home to others, be it for football games or even displaced families due to inclement weather,” said 1st. Sgt. Daniel Deen, the senior non-commissioned officer for Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. and the family’s nominator. “His wife is very active in the organization with our company and battalion family readiness groups.”

Wesley and Jessica love to involve their children in a myriad of family activities, including raising funds for care packages for deploying Soldiers and passing out breakfast burritos before training. Jessica said it is fulfilling to be involved with the Soldiers and community and to see the growth in their own children as they demonstrate acts of kindness and generosity.

The military lifestyle can be challenging for families. Shortly after the fire, Wesley deployed with his unit for 30 days to train at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Jessica and the children remained with the Gearys. By the time he returned, Jessica had gotten an apartment while they waited for the renovations to be completed.

“We were very fortunate and very blessed for the people in our lives that were there to help us through it,” said Wesley, a Fort Payne, Alabama-native.
The Gearys say that military families must support each other during hardships and tragedies.

“The Bevels were there for us when we had a need and visa versa,” said Felicia Geary, a Hannibal, Missouri-native. “It is important for the military community to stick together and support one another.”

“Within my first year as a military wife, I learned that the military brotherhood and sisterhood is strong and runs deep.”

The Bevels hope that being selected the 2018 Family of the Year will inspire their children and instill the values they hold dearest: love for others.
“How lucky are we that we get to show our kids this and hopefully have six extra little lives that contribute to one day influencing their neighbors and their friends,” said Jessica, San Diego, California-native. “I hope that we give them the tools that they need to love families like we’ve been loved.”