By Ms. Alexandra Shea (IMCOM)April 18, 2019
Fort Jackson has seen many changes and historical events throughout its history and Dorothy Brooks, Red Cross Volunteer, has been working across Fort Jackson for most of it.
Brooks has volunteered on post for roughly 60 years and witnessed first-hand the desegregation of Basic Combat Training, the introduction of the Woman's Army Corps and how World War II, Vietnam and the War on Terror affected Fort Jackson.
"My father was a volunteer firefighter," Brooks said. "I think that I just picked up on it and I really enjoy it. I volunteer where I think I'm doing the most good."
Her father carried the motto "neighbor helps neighbor." Brooks, who continues to carry the motto, began her volunteer career at the Fort Jackson thrift store as a teenager.
"That was my first job as a volunteer on Fort Jackson," Brooks said. "It was a fun time."
Brooks stayed closely associated with the thrift store as she attended the University of South Carolina. There, she would purchase and sell items she needed from semester to semester while volunteering between her classes. She graduated with a Master's of Education degree she would later use while working at the installation's education center. There she administered military occupation specialty skill qualification testing and help create a language program for Soldiers being shipped to Germany or Korea.
Brooks saw many changes across the installation over the years. Once covered in wooden buildings housing only men, the installation began replacing these buildings with those made of stronger materials such as brick and added buildings for training the Women's Army Corps.
"There were two (times I thought were the) most exciting," Brooks said. "Vietnam and when women were integrated into training here on Fort Jackson."
Brooks explained how many young men filtered through the post for BCT and Advanced Individual Training before shipping to Vietnam. She explained how "this post was humming."
Brooks was not only present when women began conducting basic training on the installation, she also witnessed first-hand women being integrated into mixed male and female basic combat units for training.
"It was an exciting time," Brooks said.
She has continued her volunteer work with various agencies across Fort Jackson including the American Red Cross, Fort Jackson thrift store, Veterans Affairs office, the animal shelter, University of South Carolina alumni events and the USO.
When asked, Brooks was unable to estimate the amount of hours she volunteers from month to month but claims she will continue her volunteer work as long as she is having fun. She explained how the work keeps her active within both the military and Columbia communities and "keeps her out of trouble."
Brooks explained volunteers are essential and people should get involved in their own communities and volunteer their time. It gives a volunteer an opportunity to help out a fellow neighbor, meet new people and know what activities are going on within their area.
Anyone wishing to become a volunteer on the installation is encouraged to contact the Fort Jackson Volunteer Coordinator Marilynn Bailey at 751-5256.