For Sgt. 1st Class Kerrilee Case, a special purpose equipment maintenance supervisor in the 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC), volunteering is second nature.
On any given weekend, she'll likely be coaching youth sports, cleaning up a highway, visiting elderly veterans at a hospice, participating in a ceremony to honor veterans, organizing an event for Fort Knox, or building a home for Habit for Humanity. Giving her time and services to others is just something she does.
Case said she began to volunteer during her first duty assignment at Fort Lewis, Wash., in 2006 after a lieutenant at her unit encouraged her to help out at a battered women's shelter.
"We would go out for special occasions like Easter, Halloween, and Valentine's Day and do events for the women and the children who were there," she said. "After seeing the satisfaction of their faces and the joy, I was hooked."
Case continued to volunteer at every duty station she was assigned to after that, but she said she never stopped to think about the impact that her service was having on her communities until last year's Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Recognition Ceremony at Fort Knox. During the ceremony, Case witnessed the presentation of a check for over $1 million to the garrison commander. The check represented the amount of money the post would have had to spend to pay for the services of its volunteers.
The amount impressed her.
"A lot of people donate money to organizations and causes they believe in, but I realized time can be even more precious," she said. "When you give your time to somebody, you're giving them a valuable gift."
Case said she never kept track of her volunteer hours until last year after Theresa Scott, the 1st TSC Family Readiness Support Assistant, encouraged her to do so.
For the first time in her 13 years, Case kept a record and discovered for the past year she has volunteered more than 430 hours to the community, which would be worth almost $11,000 if she were paid for her work.
Her service led to her winning the Fort Knox Military Volunteer of the Year Award, which she received at the Fort Knox Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Recognition Ceremony April 10, 2019.
"It feels surreal to be recognized for something I do all the time and don't even think about," she said. "I love to do it. When I'm not volunteering for something, I feel like there's something missing."
Case said she continues to get enormous satisfaction from watching the impact of her service on others.
"I coach softball for girls who are seven to 10 and basketball for girls who are six to eight, and I absolutely love watching them grow," she said. "At the beginning of the season, they start off horrible, but as they learn the fundamentals, they get better and better. It's like watching flowers bloom. I love having a hand in that."
Since February, Case has worked as the Fort Knox Salute to Life Department of Defense (DoD) Bone Marrow program representative. The program matches DoD members who are in need of bone marrow with potential DoD donors.
She said before this program, Soldiers weren't allowed to donate bone marrow because of the time they had to take off of work. Now, the Army encourages it and will allow Soldiers temporary duty travel to participate. Those who would like to learn more about how they can potentially save a life should contact her at email@example.com.
Even those who are not interested in donating bone marrow should get involved in other ways. Volunteering strengthens communities, strengthens Soldiers, and strengthens the nation, according to Case.
"Giving a piece of yourself makes you feel good and makes you a better Soldier," she said.