DALLAS – A video capturing a former Fort Drum Family’s heartwarming reunion took home the $10,000 grand prize in the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s Homeward Bound photo and video contest.
The touching video, titled “My Heart Back Home,” featured Laura Jimenez and her young son welcoming home her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Jesus Jimenez, from a yearlong deployment to Forward Operating Base Shank in Afghan-istan.
Laura Jimenez received a $10,000 Exchange gift card for her entry, one of 672 homecoming photo and video submissions the Exchange received for the contest.
“Winning the contest is wonderful,” Jimenez said. “I’m blessed, especially because my husband returned home safely.”
The video featured black-and-white photos of Laura Jimenez and her son, Leonardo, who was born just 26 days before Jesus Jimenez deployed. Photos of the Jimenezes on their wedding day and other images of the couple were shown as well. The end of the video includes footage of the Family reuniting when Jimenez returned to Fort Drum, where the Family was stationed at the time.
The Jimenez Family currently is stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas.
“Laura Jimenez is a shining example of the support military spouses provide to our service members,” said Lt. Col. Antwan C. Williams, Exchange spokesman. “Her video captured the homecoming experience beautifully, and the images also showed how emotional a deployment is for military Families.”
The Fort Bliss Exchange honored the Jimenezes with a ceremony to present them with their prize.
“Handing out the $10,000 prize was such a thrill,” said Fort Bliss General Manager Ray Emils. “The Jimenez Family is incredible. They’re good people, and I’m honored we were able to give them something tangible for their sacrifices for our country.”
Laura Jimenez’s sister, Lola Gomez, a photography student at Daytona State College in Florida, created the winning video as part of a class project. Gomez gave the video to her sister as a gift, and Jimenez then entered it in the Exchange’s Homeward Bound contest.
Jimenez is using some of her winnings to buy her sister a computer and camera lenses.
“It was my sister’s work,” she said. “She did everything.”
The Family is spending the rest of the prize on everyday necessities, such as gas, dry cleaning and household goods.
“Being a military spouse is a hard job, but I’m pleased to do it. I’m proud of my husband, and I love being there to support him when he needs me,” Jimenez added.
Army and Air Force Exchange Service