JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - – Navy spouse Mrs. Michelle Blancas was honored with a free makeover gift package through the Honolulu Armed Services YMCA’s new Operation Makeover program at the annual Aloha Welcome Coffee event hosted by the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Officers’ Spouses’ Club on Sept. 1.
Blancas, wife of Navy Chief Petty Officer (SW/AW) Alex Blancas, was recognized for supporting her husband after he was diagnosed with bone cancer while deployed to Bahrain in 2006. After Chief Blancas returned to the U.S. following his diagnosis, Mrs. Blancas helped him through nearly a year of treatments, including a bone-marrow transplant.
“I was just doing anything any wife would do is the same situation – take care of the one you love,” said Mrs. Blancas. “This completely took me off-guard. My impression is that I was here to help with the event; not win all these amazing prizes.”
In 2007 Chief Blancas was given the option to retire but instead opted to continue his military service. Blancas is currently on the Pacific Fleet headquarters staff working as an administrator for Adm. Patrick M. Walsh. He continues to receive treatment.
“Unfortunately the type of cancer I have cannot be cured, so it’s been a very long road for both of us and will continue to be hard,” said Chief Blancas. “My wife has been there through it all, and if it wasn’t for her selfless devotion I don’t think I would be standing here today.”
Operation Makeover is a program that recognizes military service members who have deployed and the family members who support their spouses. Created by Paul Brown, owner of Paul Brown Salon & Day Spa, and coordinated by ASYMCA, the program provides a day of luxury and rejuvenation through donations from various businesses, including a makeover, new clothing and a special evening at a local hotel and restaurant.
“This is the first event like this, and who really knows how this will take off,” said Stan Lum, chief executive of operations for the Honolulu Armed Services YMCA. “Many military families are fighting abroad and on the home front, so it’s important that we as a community show them that others support and respect the sacrifices that they endure.”
The Aloha Welcome Coffee event is held annually to help provide the spouses of active-duty military the opportunity to engage with groups from the community looking for volunteer help. Among the various organizations that provided volunteer opportunities during the event was the Fisher House Foundation, which offers temporary lodging for families when a military member or dependent requires specialized or extended medical care away from their primary residence.