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U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Johns, 221st Military Police Detachment, Training and Doctrine Command, was awarded the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce 2019 Military Citizen of the Year for the Army. The VPCC names one local representative, E-6 and below from each branch of the military, who have demonstrated active participation in off-duty community activities, as well as exceeding military standards.

Growing up in Ohio with a passion for the military, there was no doubt in this Soldier’s mind that one day he would serve his country, but what he didn’t anticipate was the impact he would have in his community.

U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Johns, 221st Military Police Detachment, Training and Doctrine Command, was awarded the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce 2019 Military Citizen of the Year for the Army.

The award has been presented annually since 1955 to recognize the military citizen who has made the most significant contribution of community service in the area. The VPCC names one local representative, E-6 and below from each branch of the military, who has demonstrated active participation in off-duty community activities, as well as exceeding military standards.

“I wasn’t expecting to receive the award,” Johns said. “I volunteer at the school because I want to make a difference in people’s lives. I don’t expect anything from it, but it means a lot to me that someone noticed that I’m trying to make a difference.”

Since Johns can remember, he’s always been willing to volunteer his time for a great cause.

“I’m always willing to help out whenever and wherever I can,” he said. “I just enjoy helping people and doing my part to create a better community.”

For the past three years, Johns has been volunteering at General Stanford Elementary School, Newport News, Virginia, helping teachers with anything they need, whether it's helping out around the classrooms, attending career day or being the school mascot. He is also often seen greeting the kids as they start their school day.

“I have three children of my own,” Johns said. “This is my way of showing appreciation to the education staff who help our youth and getting to see the smiles on the children’s faces when I show up makes it all worth it.”

Johns takes every chance he gets to be involved with the community to include participating in sporting activities around base housing with the youth to show them police authorities are not a threat, but are here for them.

“In today’s society police officers have somewhat of a stigma,” Johns added. “So I try to get out whenever I can to give them stickers, pencils and if I see any of the children having a bad day I will pull them to the side and speak to them and let them know everything’s going to be ok.”

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