Fort Bliss family wins $10,000 Exchange gift card as grand prize in Homeward Bound contest

MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Mitchell
MEDIA ADVISORY: 14-008
RELEASE DATE: Feb. 5, 2014

DALLAS –A video capturing a Fort Bliss family’s heartwarming reunion took home the $10,000 grand prize in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s Homeward Bound photo and video contest.

Laura Jimenez’s touching video, titled “My Heart Back Home,” featured Jimenez and her young son welcoming home her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Jesus Jimenez, from a yearlong deployment to U.S. Forward Operation Base Shank in Afghanistan. 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 Jimenez and her son, Leonardo, who was born just 26 days before Sgt. Jimenez deployed. Photos of Jimenez and her husband on their wedding day and other images of the couple were shown as well. The end of the video captured footage of the family reuniting when Sgt. Jimenez returned to Fort Drum, N.Y., where the family was previously stationed.  

“Laura Jimenez is a shining example of the support military spouses provide to our service members,” said Exchange spokesman Lt. Col. Antwan C. Williams. “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 Jimenez 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,” Jimenez 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 said. 

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The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is a joint nonappropriated fund instrumentality of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors which is responsible to the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force through the Service Chiefs of Staff.  The Exchange has the dual mission of providing authorized patrons with quality merchandise and services at competitively low prices and generating non-appropriated fund earnings as a supplemental source of funding for military morale, welfare and recreation programs. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our Web site at http://www.shopmyexchange.com.

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Media Notes:

For more information or to schedule an interview with an Exchange representative please contact Julie Mitchell, 214-312-3327 or mitchelljul@aafes.com.