Four-Legged Friends Win Joint Base MDL Service Member $1,000 Grand Prize

JOINT BASE McGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST – A local service member’s photogenic canine companions have fetched her a $1,000 Army & Air Force Exchange Service gift card, the grand prize in the Exchange’s worldwide Holiday Pet Photo Contest.

Staff Sgt. Amber Knickman of the New Jersey National Guard received the prize at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Exchange on Jan. 12. Knickman’s winning photo showed her two goldendoodles, Valor, 1, and Brody, 5, draped in Christmas lights, with the punny phrase “Dood We’re Lit” displayed between them.

“A lot of military members have pets, and I’m sure a lot of them entered, so I was honestly surprised and excited that I won,” Knickman said. “I’m sure we can put the prize to good use—probably spoiling these guys since I know the Exchange has a great pet selection.”

Teo Smith, Exchange general manager, said the Exchange was pleased to honor Knickman’s service—and her furry friends’ support—with the gift cards.

“For many service members, pets are more than just best friends—they’re family,” he said. “The Exchange is honored to help service members celebrate this time-honored tradition with $1,000 in spending money at the Exchange.”

Knickman enlisted in the Army in 2007, deploying to Iraq in 2009 and transitioning to the National Guard in 2014. She is assigned to Joint Base MDL and lives in Morrisville, Pa., with her wife, Sarah Levan.

This isn’t the first time Knickman’s four-legged friends have paid off. In 2014, she and Levan won a weeklong cruise to the Caribbean after a photo of Brody led the pack in a photo contest held by Carnival Cruise Line.

The biggest gift Valor and Brody have given Knickman, however, is their companionship.

“They’re definitely a huge stress reliever,” she said. “I have anxiety, so it’s hard for me to talk to new people. If I have dogs with me, I’m chatty Cathy. They make me feel comfortable around people. If I had a bad day, they’ll cheer me up when I get home. I can’t be mad around them. They’re too funny. They’re too cute.”

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New Jersey National Guard Staff Sgt. Amber Knickman’s canine companions fetched her a $1,000 Army & Air Force Exchange Service gift card, the grand prize in the Exchange’s Holiday Pet Photo Contest. Read more at

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Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) has gone where Soldiers, Airmen and their families go to improve the quality of their lives by providing valued goods and services at exclusive military pricing. As the 56th-largest retailer in the United States, Exchange earnings provided $2.4 billion in dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs over the last 10 years. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund entity of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our Web site at or follow us on Twitter at


Media Notes:

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