Soldier builds atypical program, challenges status quo
May 21, 2013
VILSECK, Germany -- There is a reason for why the founder of a male spouse support group here is the Active Duty Volunteer of the Year for U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr.
Staff Sgt. LuQuan Smith, who is also a range-safety noncommissioned officer for Joint Multinational Training Command, spends much of his free time enhancing other peoples' lives.
"The excitement and joy you get from the reaction of others truly is priceless," Smith said, who was nominated by the Vilseck Health Clinic to the Volunteer of the Year. "That was great to be recognized, but the true joy and reward of volunteering is the faces and the excitement that you get from helping others.
Part of Smith's packet highlighted an organization he started called MANning the HomeFront Grafenwoehr Rose Barracks Chapter, he said.
"MANning the Homefront seeks to strengthen MANspouses by organizing diverse activities that allow men to develop friendships, advocating for recognition as a group and DoD program support, and facilitating our members' connections and service to the community in order to impact the families of service members in positive and constructive ways," according to the chapter's Facebook page.
Setting up male spouse support network was motivating for Smith and is what drove him to volunteer more.
"A lot of the classes… are geared toward men and women, but the majority of the volunteers are women," Smith said. "A majority of the spouses are women and a majority of the instructors are women, so a lot of the classes are geared more so toward understanding and helping women, so I decided to take these same classes and empower the man spouses at home who don't have that support network of man spouses."
"Manning the HomeFront, pulls in everything that I do," Smith said. "Nothing I do takes time away from my family," "Everything I do, I do around work and my family. My family comes first, work comes second and my volunteer hours come in between."
Every organization Smith has volunteered for has been understanding of that philosophy and has been flexible with the hours he contributes to organizations in the Bavaria Military Community.
Among the organizations Smith volunteers for are the Rose Barracks Child Development Center, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10692. Army Community Service's Army Family Team Building and the Army Family Action Plan's 24/7 DAD, which teachers men who to communicate more effectively as a parent and spouse.
"Volunteering started for me when I was deployed in Afghanistan," Smith said, whose wife works at the health clinic where he volunteers as an event coordinated for the clinic's Family Readiness Group.
Smith's son was born while he was deployed, he said. When he returned from his deployment, his son was a year old.
"The best thing for me to do to spend more time with him was to volunteer at the CDC that he goes to," Smith said.
That is how volunteering started for him he advises anyone who wants to volunteer to be committed to the cause, he said.
"If you are going to volunteer, volunteer because you want to volunteer and not because you are forced to volunteer. Enjoy what you do and if you truly enjoy it, you will continue to volunteer."