JACKSONVILLE, Onslow County - Military caregiver and United States Marine Corps (USMC) veteran Dana Abudayeh was named a recipient of The Vigiano Family Hope and Courage award at the eighth annual Hope For The Warriors' Got Heart Give Hope Gala in Arlington, Va., on September 28.
A resident of Jacksonville, N.C., Abudayeh was one of five award recipients and was selected for the honor due to her roles as a veteran, caregiver, wife, mother, and volunteer with Hope For The Warriors.
Named in honor of the Vigiano family, who lost both of their sons in the September 11 attacks, the Hope and Courage awards are presented to service members and military family members who have demonstrated both hope and courage in the face of extraordinary circumstances.
"I am humbled and feel very honored to receive the Vigiano Family Hope and Courage Award," Abudayeh said. "God gave me the heart of a servant and I find so much joy in helping others. I am beyond blessed in life and it's my time to give back."
A four-year veteran of the USMC, Abudayeh joined the Marine Corps after graduating high school at the encouragement of her brother, who was also serving as a Marine. She graduated in the top 10% of her platoon and graduated second in her class in Military Occupational (MOS) school.
Choosing to be stationed at MCB Camp Pendleton, Abudayeh worked at the Consolidated Personnel Administrative Center (CPAC), until her final year of service when she was selected to work for the Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations West in the Staff Secretary Office.
Shortly after leaving the Marine Corps, Abudayeh moved to Camp Lejeune, married Adel, another Marine, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. A few months after her graduation, her husband's nearly 13-year career in the Marine Corps came to an end, as the effects of his five combat deployments and multiple injuries led him to a medical retirement.
The retirement changed the family's plans and instead of teaching elementary school, Abudayeh became a full-time caregiver. Today, Abudayeh continues her role as caregiver, supportive wife, mom to two young boys, and an active volunteer for both Hope For The Warriors and her church.
"Tonight we highlight and honor the courage and success of our service members and military families," Robin Kelleher, co-founder and CEO for Hope For The Warriors, said. "These 'Faces of Hope' represent the service and sacrifices made every day by our service members and military families. Through these awards we recognize the hope and courage they instill in and symbolize for their communities and our country."