NCO committed to helping homeless
August 11, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Staff Sgt. Ontego Straight didn’t wait for the Army to assign him as a drill sergeant, he volunteered to be one. Straight has been volunteering since childhood, as part of his life as the son of a preacher.
“When we were young, my dad used to help the homeless out all the time,” Straight said. “Once we had a homeless man living with us, you can’t give anymore than to welcome someone into your own house. I’ve been doing this my whole life.”
Straight volunteers often with help from his supportive command, despite the busy schedule he has of turning civilians into Soldiers. '
“I volunteer on Saturdays. I just ask my first sergeant or commander for the time off, and they always work with me,” Straight said.
At the Zephaniah Temple homeless shelter, Straight helps mentor, serve meals and provide Bible-based inspiration to the people in need there.
“I came up poor, and that’s why my heart is really in this when I see people in need. I know what it’s like to go without,” Straight said. “So if I can help someone get some food or some clothes or meet a need, that’s what I’m here to do. I think that’s what we are all called to do.”
Straight also volunteers with a teen pregnancy prevention program and Harvest Hope Food Bank.
As a drill sergeant, Straight instills discipline, respect and motivation into his Soldiers.
“I want them to act like ladies and gentlemen because that is important in being a leader one day,” Straight said. “They need to have discipline to get things done and also need to hold themselves highly, respect themselves so that others will respect them as leaders down the road.”
Straight also said that moral character is important in the shaping of an individual and teaches Soldiers about personal standards as well as Army standards.
“I figure that since I teach these Soldiers everything else, I might as well be able to teach them to do the right thing,” Straight said. “They have no one else while they are out here, so I teach them the same things my parents taught me about morals and doing what is right.”
Straight only has one more cycle left with the Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment. He will continue on to his next duty station in Germany and complete his bachelor’s degree.
“I plan on finishing up my Business Administration degree and seeing how far I can get on the enlisted side and I’m considering going (to Officer Candidate School),” Straight said. “I have about 11 more years left, so I’m sure I’ll be able to accomplish a lot by then.”