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Jean Downs accepts AUSA Volunteer Family of the Year Award

MADISON – Maj. (Ret.) Jean Downs and her family have been honored as Association of the United States Army or AUSA Volunteer Family of the Year for the AUSA Huntsville Chapter.

Downs accepted the award at the 2023 Huntsville/Madison County Veterans Week Dinner on Nov. 10 at the Von Braun Center’s Saturn Ballroom.

Jean and husband Jeff Downs are parents of six children:

* Brent, 32 – In mechanical engineering, bachelor’s degree at University of Mississippi and master’s degree at Mississippi State University. Madison resident. Works for defense contractor.

* Brian, 30 – Will graduate from Ole Miss in December with bachelor’s degree in geological science. Served as Army Ranger with multiple deployments to Afghanistan.

* D.J., 28 – Graduated from Ole Miss with bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Works for contractor on Redstone Arsenal. A Corps of Engineers Captain with Mississippi National Guard, D.J. commands a Sapper Company.

* Haley, 28 – Graduated from Auburn University with bachelor’s degree and from University of Alabama at Birmingham with master’s degree in occupational therapy. Works at SAIC. Haley and husband Grayson Couch live in Huntsville.

* Mary, 19 – Ole Miss sophomore studying marketing and communications.

* Olivia, 17 – Ole Miss freshman studying biomedical engineering.

In Madison American Legion, Post 229, Jean Downs serves as Vice Commander and is President of Auxiliary Unit 229. For the post, she has worked with Honor Guard, Oratorical Contest, planning for Madison Memorial Day ceremony, JROTC Awards Ceremonies at three high schools, American Legion Baseball, Madison Street Festival, volunteers for six school assemblies/parades for Veterans Day, Christmas Parade, Quilt of Valor presentations, first-responder awards, conducted memorial for World War II veteran, monthly newsletters, game nights at Tut Fann State Veterans Home and as board member of Post 229 Foundation.

An avid supporter of Girl Scouts, Downs has worked as Troop Leader for 13 years; Camp Trico caretaker; Director, Summer Resident Camp; and watersports trainer. Jeff has assisted with Girl Scout camps, Post 229’s observances at city cemeteries, parades and gravestone repairs.

Like Jeff, daughters Mary and Olivia have assisted in cemetery work and Memorial Day activities. Mary and Olivia also distributed memorial poppies, shipped care packages to deployed troops, prepared holiday gift baskets, filled backpacks for Kids to Love, conducted flag retirements and yard work at Veterans Park.

Jean Downs has earned many awards in the past two years: Madison County Veteran of the Year; DAR State and Southeastern Division Veteran of the Year; and prestigious Girl Scout of the USA Thanks Badge. Mary and Olivia both earned Girl Scout Gold Award.

For the Downs family, community service is integral in normal routines. Recognizing veterans in Madison’s senior-living facilities is an American Legion focus; the Downs have adopted this endeavor. Through this outreach, approximately 160 veteran couples are recognized at all holidays and Veterans Week. Four of these veterans received the Quilt of Valor. A birthday party honored a 100-year-old World War II veteran. These ‘seniors’ received hundreds of local students’ cards/correspondence.

Jean participates in Gentry-Isom VFW, Post 2702; two chapters, General Federation of Women’s Clubs; Redstone Arsenal Military and Civilians Club; and MOAA.

She works as a Senior Director at Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc.

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