Fort Stewart Hospital Recognizes Selfless Service of Volunteers
April 23, 2009
<b>FORT STEWART, Ga.</b> -- Over the past year, more than 100 Red Cross volunteers have worked for a combined 17,500 hours at Winn Army Community Hospital at Fort Stewart, Ga., and their hard work was recognized in a ceremony, April 14.
The total number of volunteer hours adds up to more than $331,000 in man-power, something the hospital would not otherwise be able to afford.
Congressman Jack Kingston, representative of the 1st District of Georgia, and Brig. Gen. Donald M. Bradshaw, commanding general, Southeast Regional Medical Command, were guest speakers at the ceremony. Also at the ceremony was Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, commanding general, 3rd Infantry Division, Col. John P. Collins, hospital commander, Col. Todd Buchs, Fort Stewart garrison commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, 3rd ID command sergeant major.
"(Volunteers) have contributed this year alone more than $330,000, which is a tremendous amount of manpower, and money that otherwise would come out of the pockets of the American taxpayers," said Col. Collins.
The majority of the volunteers are retirees and military spouses.
"I decided to volunteer initially, because my husband was going to Iraq, and I didn't want to sit around," said Alice Maniece, wife of Sgt. Marcel Maniece, Company F, 26th Brigade Support Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment.
A former Air Force pharmacy technician, Maniece volunteers her time in the Allergy and Immunization Clinic. Initially, she input patient records into the computer; now she assists with putting syringes together and getting shots ready.
"I'd gone to the clinic to get my shot history, and it wasn't in the computer I figured I wasn't the first person this happened to," Maniece said of her decision to volunteer at the clinic. "I saw there was a need, so I jumped at it."
Maniece is a student studying accounting and culinary arts at Savannah Tech and does her volunteering around her class schedule.
The longest-tenured volunteer at the hospital is Margie N. Smith, who has volunteered in Winn's Chaplain's Office since April 1986. She visits patients in ICU and other wards, including the maternity ward.
The wife of Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Aldon Smith, a military cook, and the mother of four, Smith began volunteering after a hospital stay at Fort Benning, where her husband was stationed.
"I was in isolation at the hospital at Benning for 15 days, and seldom did I see anyone but my own Family and hospital staff," Smith said. "From that time, there was a calling in my life." Since that day in 1981, Smith has volunteered at hospitals at each base her husband was stationed at.
"Reaching out to sick people does help, because it helped me when I had visitors when I was sick," she said. "I visit anyone who allows me to come into their room and wants a visit. Just being there, and letting someone know you care... it helps."
At Fort Stewart, all of the volunteer hours allow the Soldiers and hospital staff to concentrate on their mission, and spend more time with patients, said volunteer director Brigitte Shanken.
"Volunteers give us the extra room to do the extra little things that make all of the difference (in patient care)," she said.
The volunteers time and commitment isn't lost on the Army's medical command.
"Volunteers do so many things for us that we wouldn't function without them," Brig. Gen. Bradshaw said. "They're part of our team."
In addition to the civilian volunteers, Soldier volunteers were honored as well, including Sgt. 1st Class Samuel Armstrong and Spc. Kelle Sayers, who were awarded the Military Outstand Volunteer Service Medal for their volunteer hours outside of the hospital.