As a volunteer with Army Community Service on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, retired Army Lt. Col. C.J. Buche contributed 3,758 hours of service over five years. In April, she'll receive the Emma Marie Baird Award at the JBM-HH Volunteer Recognition Award Ceremony for her efforts.
The award is presented annually by the Department of the Army in recognition of those who have contributed "outstanding service" to ACS, according to the award's official website.
Buche is an Army veteran and military spouse to retired Army Lt. Col. Joe Buche, former commander of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). She began her volunteer work when she was still in uniform, working as a Family Readiness Group adviser to help Soldiers and their families find necessary resources and prepare for deployments.
After retiring from the Army, Buche said she volunteered in her local community and at church, and while those were great experiences, she missed that connection she had forged with Soldiers and their loved ones.
"For me, I get so much out of interacting with people," Buche told the Pentagram. "In Northern Virginia, you can kind of blend into the local community and not do a whole lot with the military ... I found that I missed the connection to Soldiers and their families. Having grown up in the military, if you will, being able to share that was really cool."
During her time with ACS, Buche worked as the ACS Volunteer Board president, ACS Volunteer supervisor and a front desk volunteer.
As volunteer board president and volunteer supervisor, Buche raised funds, supervised and trained 26 volunteers and recruited new volunteers.
She also organized holiday toy drives specifically for Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall from 2012 to 2014, distributing donated toys to more 1,100 Army and Marine children on the joint base. Of her many accomplishments, Buche is most proud of the toy drive.
"When a Soldier picked up a toy for his daughter and said, 'This is exactly the one she wants,' it was awesome," Buche said.
The Emma Marie Baird Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service was established in August 1988 in memory of the late retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Emma Marie Baird, considered the founder of Army Community Service.
"I am truly honored and humbled to receive this particular award," Buche said. "To receive an award that acknowledges the contributions of an Army officer who was also a woman and a volunteer means quite a bit."
But Buche stressed that she wouldn't have been able to do any of her work alone, and thanked the many people who made it possible along the way.
"Nothing I have done was done on my own," she said. "Everything I did was done by a whole lot of other people helping and a whole lot of people for inspiration. That applies to ACS and to everywhere that I've been."
In addition to her work with ACS, Buche also volunteered at the Fort Myer Thrift Shop and at the chapel. Before coming to JBM-HH, Buche volunteered at Fort Belvoir with the Army Family Team Building (AFTB) and Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) programs. She and her husband now live in Yorktown, Pennsylvania.
"I've gotten a whole lot in life and I would like to be able to give back, and it sure feels good when I do," she said.
For more information on the Emma Marie Baird award, visit http://goo.gl/2zEyVW.
For more information about ACS, visit www.jbmhhmwr.com/army-community-service-acs.