By Susan Huseman, USAG Stuttgart Public AffairsSeptember 4, 2008
STUTTGART, Germany - Volunteers here are being asked once again to step up to the plate. Only this time, it's not for the benefit of an organization or event, but for themselves.
In May, Army Community Service switched to the Volunteer Management Information System, an online tool that provides a real-time snapshot of volunteer activities at any given time, at any given Army installation.
Consequently, volunteers are now being asked to take a few minutes to register with the system.
"So far I have 52 people registered as official volunteers," said Laura Davis, the U.S. Army Stuttgart Army Volunteer Corps coordinator at ACS. "My goal is to have 200 registered by October."
Registration is important to organizations that use volunteers and to the garrison, according to Davis. "Each volunteer hour is worth $18.77, the equivalent of an hour's pay for a GS-5 employee," said Davis. "By tracking the hours, we can show the command just how valuable the volunteer support is to the community. Every hour a volunteer gives is like writing a check to the community."
Last year, local volunteers donated an estimated 137,000 hours, equivalent to approximately $2.5 million in contributed services. Only the volunteer hours of registered volunteers will count this year.
And while 1,013 volunteers were invited to the 2007 Volunteer Recognition Day last April, this year only those registered in the system will be invited, noted Davis. She has an additional perk planned for registered volunteers. "At the 2008 Volunteer Recognition Day, we'll have a volunteer auction. You'll earn volunteer bucks for every hour volunteered, and you can spend them at the auction," she said.
Kara Forristall, a volunteer at ACS, registered into the VMIS system in May. "I was already volunteering when I registered. I was able to go back 30 days from the date I registered and log all my hours," she recalls.
Logging the hours she puts in designing banners, posters and flyers for ACS is easy. "All it takes is tracking the hours in your head and then transferring them to the computer - every week or as often as you want. Normally, people write down their hours someplace, so this substitutes for the paper," said Forristall.
To register with the VMIS system, visit the Web site www.MyArmyLifeToo.com. Also, registering first on MyArmyLifeToo before using VMIS makes the process easier. After registering to MyArmyLifeToo, click on "Getting Involved" on the home page, then "Online Opportunity Locator." From here, you can search for volunteer opportunities by selecting your military community, such as USAG Stuttgart. The registration process begins by clicking on "Volunteer Registration." The registration form asks for name, contact information, and a few personal details such as birth date and gender.
Once the form is complete, hit the submit button, and the registration will be sent to the Volunteer Corps coordinator via e-mail. Once registered, you can apply for a volunteer position.
In Stuttgart, there are 40 organizations with 177 volunteer positions, said Davis. Positions range from a public relations assistant for the USO to performers for the Kelley Theater.
"VMIS is a great program," said Davis. "When people move to a new community, their volunteer profile and service history will follow them."
The system also allows users to export their volunteer service record into DA Form 4162, also known as the ACS Volunteer Service Record. This becomes a useful tool when writing a resume, said Davis, and can even be attached to a job application.
"The Department of the Army looks at our volunteer records. When a community has a lot of certified hours, it can mean more funding. It could actually equate to a paid position for an organization," said Davis.