JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NJ -- The Doughboy Chapter of the U.S. Army Warrant Officers Association recently installed their new president at chapter headquarters here.

"The association is a lifeline for us to give back to the community," said CW4 Keith R. Prather, senior legal administrator for the Army Reserve's 99th Regional Support Command. "It's not just fellowship, it's our volunteer arm to give back to the community through various outreach programs."

Prather joined the USAWOA in 1997 when he graduated from Warrant Officer Candidate School. The USAWOA is the only military service organization maintained by and for Warrant Officers. Their chapters work in the community across the country and give warrant officers of all branches a place to meet and give back to the community.

"I've been a member of the Fort Knox chapter as well as the Atlanta chapter, said Prather. "The Atlanta Chapter was dormant and I activated it and became the president."

The Doughboy Chapter has several community outreach programs they are currently working on, to include scholarships awarded to two local Pemberton High School students every year, food drives, a suit drive for those who are unemployed and need a suit for job interviews, and care packages sent to deployed Army Reserve Soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

"The members of this chapter have been my family while I serve away from my home as a geographical bachelor," said Prather. "They have made the quality of this tour really nice and exciting for me."

Prather joined the Army in August 1978. After successfully completing his first active-duty tour, Prather joined the Army Reserve, which gave him the flexibility to continue to serve and go to college.

Prather became a drill sergeant and stayed in this capacity for the next six years, followed by several years training new Soldiers to the Public Affairs field as a journalist and broadcaster. As a master sergeant in Public Affairs, he had the opportunity to apply for the Warrant Officer Program.

"I was eligible for sergeant major, but I didn't know what the future would hold or if there were any openings," said Prather. "I put my warrant-officer packet in, and a few months later I was accepted."

While Prather was officially a warrant officer in the human-resources field, he continued as an appointed public affairs officer in his unit. Prather served in public affairs, including a tour in Iraq, until he became a CW3 and moved into the staff judge advocate field.

Prather will leave New Jersey this summer to take on his next role as the senior warrant officer/deputy command chief warrant officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

For any retired, prior-service or currently serving warrant officers interested in joining the Doughboy Chapter of the USAWOA, contact CW4 Keith R. Prather at keith.r.prather.mil@mail.mil or CW3 Misty Whetung at misty.l.whetung.mil@mail.mil or visit the chapter's website at http://woaonline.org/doughboy/.

The chapter meets the third Thursday of every month at Pudgy's Sports Bar and Grill here. There is an occasional Saturday meeting for members who are not local but want to be involved. If you are in another state and looking for the closest chapter, go to the USAWOA website at www.usawoa.org