By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterJune 7, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 7, 2013) -- With the downsizing in the civilian and military workforce, across the nation volunteers are becoming more and more valuable.
With the ability to save organizations money and give back to communities, volunteering is more than a noble cause; it is a necessity for many establishments to carry on with day-to-day business, said Curtis Williams, mobilization and deployment program manager and Fort Rucker Army Volunteer Corps Coordinator.
"They are there and they fill in those missing seats, they fill those holes and they make things happen. They make a world of difference," he said. "They are incredibly important to sustaining America's checks and balances."
Some of the Army's agencies would not be as efficient without their volunteers, added Williams.
"They are there picking up the pieces of things that can become overwhelming to a worker," he continued. "Volunteering actually allows the mission to continue to flow because they are there to fill those voids."
To Williams, volunteering gives individuals a since of belonging and a community-oriented mindset, and he said for Soldiers who are already integrated into the life of the nation it gives them a closer proximity to operate with those who may not be associated with the military.
"Off-post volunteering builds the camaraderie between us," he said. "They are doing so many valuable things to ensure that the programs and our Army still look good to America and those that we serve."
Williams went on to say that there is no doubt that when the outside community sees Soldiers volunteering that it improves their opinion of the Army and its Soldiers.
"When they go out into the community and tackle a project -- that solidifies the relationship between local communities and the installation. It makes life easier for the command structure when you have that type of positive influence," he said.
Soldiers from across Fort Rucker can be seen around the local communities volunteering during class projects, but W01 Ramon Sarmiento, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, who volunteered at the Wiregrass Human Society June 1, said that volunteering isn't about being recognized for the deed or even filling in the void of cutbacks.
No, for him, volunteering is about continuing his pledge to help others.
"Volunteering is a way to show that I am here to serve the American people," he began. "As an American Soldier it is my duty to serve, and volunteering is just another part of doing my job."
Both Williams and Sarmiento agree that volunteering not only strengthens the military and the organizations, but strengthens the individual.
"Being a great volunteer is a way to get references and gain experience. You enhance your interpersonal relationship skills, your communication and customer service skills," said Williams. "You help yourself develop the tools for a better or fuller life."
The on-the-job experience volunteers get while helping others can open many doors and strengthens people as a whole, Williams continued.
Volunteering is also a good social and cultural education tool, said Williams, because volunteers get a chance to meet new people and expand their knowledge about the world.
There are many ways and programs currently set up that Soldiers can volunteer through.
"Youth and sports has opportunities where volunteers can be coaches and Hearts Apart is an opportunity where Soldiers can fish with children," said Williams.
"They can volunteer through Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers; Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation; Army Community Service; the physical fitness facility and Family readiness groups," Williams added.
Other events and programs currently looking for volunteers are the Fort Rucker Riding Stables for Fright Night; Sesame Street Experience; Big Ben Wildlife Sanctuary; child, youth and school services; thrift shop; youth center; Center Library; local nursing homes; Wiregrass United Way; and numerous animals shelters in the area.
To find on-post volunteer opportunities, visit www.myarmyonesource.com/FamilyProgramsandServices/Volunteering/VMIS/VMIShome.aspx. It displays all of the opportunities of each agency on an installation.
To connect with the local community, visit www.uw.org/211/volunteer-center to get connected to individuals and groups that offer volunteer opportunities.