If you know an awesome service member who deserves recognition for going above and beyond the call of duty, this is your chance to sing that unsung hero's praises and perhaps send him or her to Washington, D.C.

We're talking about someone who excels at his or her job and enjoys it; someone who inspires and helps those around him, whether fellow troops or members of the community.

Here's what you need to know about nominating your service member in the 2014 Service Member of the Year competition:

1. Everyday heroes. We're not talking about someone who has earned a chest full of combat medals, although many of the winners selected since we began the annual competition in 2001 have earned their share. We honor the well-rounded military professional. Past winners have demonstrated a commitment to excelling in their jobs and helping those they work with perform at peak potential. They have also devoted personal time to bettering their communities, whether downrange or at home. Some, for example, have led clothing drives for the needy in the war zone, helped teach local school children, or provided financial and emotional support for others wearing the uniform. In a word, they are selfless. Our winners have been enlisted and officer, male and female, single and married, active-duty members and reservists.

2. Unique honor. Here's what makes this award truly special: The candidates are nominated by their peers. They did not seek recognition for their outstanding work, but others singled them out for making a difference on the job, at home and in the community. Every year, service members are nominated by their commanders, troops who work for them, spouses, friends, community leaders and others.

3. Selecting winners. The editors of Gannett Government Media's military publications Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times meet several times over the weeks leading up to the July event and go through hundreds of nominations. During the process, they winnow the candidates until a handful are left for a final vote. It's not an easy call, and for that reason, the editors also select recipients for honorable mentions.

The candidates selected as winners are not yet deemed final, though: That comes after Military Times staff vets them by interviewing their commanders, those who nominated them and, ultimately, the candidates themselves.

4. What they get. The winners get the royal treatment, including:

■An all-expenses-paid vacation airfare, lodging, meals and more in Washington, D.C., for the winner and a guest.

■A formal awards ceremony on Capitol Hill, featuring service chiefs and top lawmakers.

■Professional photographs and video of the awards ceremony.

■A tour of Military Times, including meetings with editors and staff reporters, as well as a visit to the printing press.

■A feature in the Military Times newspapers and on the Military Times Service Members of the Year website.

5. Who's your hero? It's simple to nominate your Service Member of the Year. Visit today.

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