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Not Home for the Holidays

Honoring those with sacrifice their holidays to serve our country, care for the sick, and help those in emergencies

Greg & Monica Bassett

His Role: Major, United States Army

Her Role: Founder, Stronghold Community Food Pantry & 2022 Army Spouse of the Year

Do you have holiday traditions when Greg is deployed? For Christmas, we send themed boxes to him and his whole team, so everyone is included.

What are your favorite holiday traditions when you all get to be together?

Spending time with friends that have become family. For many in the Fort Riley community, we’re all we have. We have a Secret Santa with the neighborhood and decorate holiday cookies with the kids. 

How do you give back during the holidays? Last year, we gave out baskets with turkey through dessert from our garage in Fort Riley. One in four military families face food insecurity. We started by giving out baskets of food, diapers, and wipes during PCS [Permanent Change of Station] season. The ripple effect of the community makes an impact. People would leave groceries on my porch for the pantry, and a middle schooler collected 600 pounds of food. Now, I’m working on getting 501(c)(3) status for Stronghold Community Food Pantry in Leavenworth.

Rejeana Hoffman

Role: Rehabilitation Nursing Technician

What makes your job meaningful?

Seeing patients become independent again after therapy, and hearing how much you’ve helped them. 

What can patients’ families do to make the holidays a little better? 

Having family present during the holidays helps a lot, so there’s someone the patient recognizes. A former patient wrote me a “thank you” card and gave the staff cookies to show us appreciation.

Do you have holiday traditions at work?

People volunteer their time to decorate and organize a potluck. My favorite dish has been Filipino noodles [pancit] with chicken and vegetables.

What are your favorite holiday traditions when you get to be home?

Sitting around the fireplace and eating recipes that grandma used to make.

Lleran Johnson

Role: 911 Dispatcher

What makes your job meaningful?

Making a difference in people’s lives, whether it’s something major or minor. I like helping people get the help they need and making a lousy day better.

Do you have holiday traditions at work? We’re a weird, big ol’ family. We do a potluck with everyone. Somebody on the patrol side will do brisket, and we’ll try to get K-State police and Pottawatomie County folks to come over if they’re in the area. Someone from the public will bring cookies. We’ll always take freebies!

What are your favorite holiday traditions when you get to be home?

Going to my grandma’s house, looking through old photo albums, telling stories, joking, and laughing.

  • Major Gregory Bassett, Monica Bassett, and their girls
  • The Bassett Family
  • Rejeana Hoffman
  • Lleran Johnson