Soldier Dad Says Volunteering Is Everyone's Responsibility
October 15, 2012
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- When his daughters' school needs help with a project, he's ready to give his time. After the deadly tornadoes of April 27, 2011, he helped clear neighborhood debris.
And he coaches his oldest daughter's under-8 soccer team at Redstone.
Maj. Dave Benjamin believes volunteering is everyone's duty.
"I just think it's civic responsibility," he said. "If you want to live in this country then you need to be willing to give something back to this country without expectation of payment or advancement."
Benjamin coaches the Tigers, a U8 team of two boys and four girls, including his 7-year-old daughter Payton. He's on the field with them probably 3-4 hours each week.
"I get to spend time with her," he said. "Second (reason for coaching) would be I love sports. I love athletics. If I can share that love with not only my daughter but the other kids, that's what I'm really trying to do -- that spirit of competition."
Benjamin, assistant project manager for Integrated Air and Missile Defense integration in the Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, has been at least assistant coaching since 2009 when his daughter started playing sports.
He and his wife and three children arrived in December 2008 from Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., where he served for two years as the maintenance officer for the Army Sustainment Command.
His wife, Tammy, volunteers as a nurse at their daughters' school, the Academy for Arts and Academics. Payton is a second-grader and Joanna, 5, attends kindergarten. The Benjamins' son, DJ, is 3.
Benjamin has served in the Army 12 years, starting at Fort Bragg, N.C., from where he deployed to Afghanistan from 2002-03 and received a Bronze Star. Next he was assigned to Fort Drum, N.Y., as a company commander. And he deployed to Iraq from Fort Drum in 2005-06 and received another Bronze Star. His Rock Island Arsenal tour led to Redstone where he'll stay "I'm hoping at least another year or two, but you never can tell with the Army."
His parents are both retired colonels so he was raised in various locations but he calls Chicago his hometown. "I'm a White Sox and Chicago Bears fan," he said. He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Loyola University in 1999. And he hopes to pursue a master's of business administration at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
"My dad retired after 26 years military service, Col. (retired) David J. Benjamin Jr., so I'm the third," he said. "And my mother, Marcia, is also retired (colonel), Army nurse. They reside in Barrington, Ill."
Benjamin has two brothers: Colin, 33, works in Chicago in security at the Hilton Hotel; and 1st Lt. Sean, 24, is stationed in Afghanistan with the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
For leisure, Benjamin enjoys spending time with his children outdoors in the Huntsville area looking at historic sites or Monte Sano. And when the children are asleep, he likes to read -- anything from science fiction to nonfiction, which is usually military related. He also likes playing with his Xbox and watching mixed martial arts.