Volunteering benefits, supports everyone involved
July 17, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (July 17, 2013) -- Soldiers and Family members seeking new opportunities can lend a hand in their communities through a variety of volunteer services.
Army Volunteer Corps connects with several organizations on Fort Benning and surrounding communities year round to find those eager to help, Army Volunteer Corps Coordinator Starla De Saussure said. Fort Benning currently has a total of 2,214 registered volunteers on post, including 1,061 Family members, 1,022 service members, 131 civilians and 408 private organization volunteers.
"Volunteering is especially important to the community because without volunteers, many organizations or services would not exist," De Saussure said. "Here on Fort Benning alone, Child, Youth & School Services would not be able to provide coaches for baseball, cheerleading, football, soccer, track and wrestling."
To spread the word about these programs, Army Volunteer Corps hosts two semiannual volunteer fairs and participates in two volunteer fairs with the Community Spouses Club and Columbus State University, she said.
Soldiers can volunteer to earn the Military Outstanding Service Medal and promotion points (E-4 and E-5). Spouses can volunteer to network, learn new skills, review old skills, add experience to resumes or keep resumes current by volunteering between jobs.
"My goal is for volunteering to be win-win for everyone involved, the Soldier and the organization for which he or she volunteers," De Saussure said.
Children and teens can also find many academic and social benefits from volunteering.
"Teens can volunteer for community service for middle school and high school, which help enhance college applications," she said. "I encourage everyone to volunteer in a particular area of interest, especially before they commit to starting or continuing their education or career pursuits to see if that is the path they want to continue."
Programs that rely heavily on volunteers include Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, Santa's Castle, Community Spouses Club, Family Readiness Groups, American Red Cross, International Wives Club, Fort Benning Wounded Warrior Association, Wounded Warrior Horsemanship Program, Soldier and Family Association, Army Family Team Building, Army Family Action Plan and the Army Volunteer Corps.
"The most popular volunteer programs are the American Red Cross, primarily because they offer free child care for volunteers and ample volunteer opportunities in and out of the hospital setting," De Saussure said. "Child, Youth & School Services sports program is another popular program with Soldiers and spouses. Habitat for Humanity and House of Heroes seem to be a favorite for Soldiers who like to build things."
De Saussure said an upcoming volunteer opportunity will be with the Adopt-a-Grandparent Program. The program will help to create more Family-friendly opportunities while providing support to older residents.
"This program will focus on Soldiers and Families 'adopting' a grandparent with priority being veterans, widows or widowers and visiting these individuals, especially during the times when the nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not being inundated with visitors, such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas," she said. "Seniors love interacting with children and vets love interacting with younger vets and telling their war stories. The effect this will have on these seniors will be priceless."
De Saussure said volunteers are recognized quarterly during the Maneuver Center of Excellence Breakfast in volunteer of the month and a volunteer of the quarter categories. The annual MCoE Volunteer Recognition Ceremony is held in April or May and formally recognizes volunteers who are nominated with 500 adult hours and 300 youth hours.
For more information, contact Army Volunteer Corps at 706-545-3016 or visit www.benningmwr.com/acs-volunteercorps.php.