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Know an unsung hero? Nominate a Marine for Service Member of the Year

Apr. 13, 2013 - 10:54AM   |  
Maj. David Coté, 2011 Marine of the Year, is now a Pentagon budget analyst with Marine Corps Programs and Resources.
Maj. David Coté, 2011 Marine of the Year, is now a Pentagon budget analyst with Marine Corps Programs and Resources. (Colin Kelly / Staff)
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Former Staff Sgt. David Vogt was Marine Corps Times' Marine of the Year in 2010. He's now running for Congress (Mike Morones / Staff)


Who's eligible: Active-duty or reservists through August 2013.
Achievement criteria: Positive actions performed on and off duty during 2012.
The prize: A trip to Washington, D.C., for two, culminating in an award ceremony on Capitol Hill. The winner is also featured in Marine Corps Times.
Who can nominate: Fellow service members, commanders, parents and spouses
How to nominate:
Deadline: April 28

This is an official call-out: We're looking for outstanding Marines who serve as an inspiration both on and off duty.

These are service members who would never ask or seek special recognition but deserve it.

You know someone like that? Then take a little bit of time and nominate him or her as Military Times' 2013 Marine of the Year.

Every year since 2001, we've been honoring service members for their contributions to their peers and their communities. For those selected, it is one of the most memorable moments of their careers.

Just ask Marine veteran David Vogt and Maj. David Coté, the Military Times Marines of the Year for 2010 and 2011, respectively. They said the recognition continues to open doors for them to do good.

Two years after being named 2011 Marine of the Year, Coté is briefing members of Congress on the issues facing homeless veterans, and his graduate school research is helping a nonprofit in San Diego determine the risk factors facing the veterans they serve.

Now a Pentagon budget analyst with Marine Corps Programs and Resources, Coté said he devoted a year of master's degree research to developing an analytical tool for veterans' homelessness.

His project, the Service Member Attrition Risk Tool (SMART) is now being used by Veteran's Village in San Diego, and Coté has briefed the city's mayor, former House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner, and members of Congress on the project.

Coté said being named Marine of the Year helped bridge connections at the Pentagon and in the halls of the Capitol, but more than that, it inspired him to keep serving.

“It's opened a lot of doors. And with that comes some added responsibility,” he said. “Just because you got this recognition doesn't make you, as a person, any more valuable than anyone else. What am I doing in my life to try to lift others up?”

For Vogt, the 2010 Marine of the Year, the recognition could be one steppingstone on the way to achieving his childhood dream: winning a seat in Congress. After leaving the Corps as a staff sergeant in 2012, Vogt briefly worked at the Pentagon but resigned in April to devote himself full time to run for Congress representing Maryland's 6th District.

Since receiving the 2010 honor, Vogt has met general officers, chiefs of staff and congressmen, but his greatest honor, he said, came from a former Marine mentee completing a sergeant's course in Japan.

“He sent me a message on Facebook saying … while he was at the sergeant's course, he took a copy of the Marine Corps Times from three years ago and said, ‘This is what a staff sergeant does.' That's probably the best compliment I've gotten,” Vogt said.

Vogt said he encourages other Marines of every rank to nominate the leaders they respect for Marine of the Year.

“You recognizing that someone selflessly puts themselves out there, and you wanting to make sure that they get recognized for it is a huge element of leading,” he said.

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