By Sgt. Jessica DuVernayJuly 16, 2019
FORT HOOD, TX - "I volunteer because I grew up in a very unpleasant area and I remember," reflected Staff Sgt. Deborah Harrison, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "There would be a lot of gang violence and drug activity and it just wasn't a good situation to be in."
Harrison, the Soldier and Family Readiness Liaison for Greywolf Brigade and a Bacliff, TX native spends her available time volunteering in her local community.
"I don't do it for recognition," she said. "I do it because I thoroughly enjoy it and because where I come from there is so much negativity and so to be able to bring joy and happiness I think it really sets a positive example."
Earlier in her career, Harrison felt the need to give back to her community. Initially starting her volunteering career as a coach for a T-Ball, Harrison realized that volunteering meant freedom of where to dedicate her time.
"I realized I was not a good coach," she remembered, laughing.
What really motivated Harrison to volunteer, however, was the after effects of Hurricane Harvey.
"A lot of the families in the neighborhood that I grew up in could not afford the cost of repairs," Harrison said. "For the ones who did or were able to scrape the funds together, were met with a lot of untrustworthy people who would steal their money and disappear."
She remembers taking the time to put her skills to use.
"I was stationed in Alaska at the time, and I took about 25 days of leave and flew home and worked on repairs for everyone," She said. "Before I joined the Army, I worked in construction so I had a lot of skills that were able to help the individuals who needed it the most."
After helping her community, Harrison was able to turn her attention to the animals in the area who needed help. After Harvey some residents were not able to move their pets and many were separated from their families. From there, she realized her passion was helping animals who were in unfortunate situations.
Working toward her degree for veterinary technology, Harrison now dedicates between 30-40 hours a month volunteering at a local animal shelter.
"I love the people that work there and I love to volunteer there," she said. "I help with anything the shelter needs - adoptions, rodeos or fundraisers - literally anything."
Harrison knows that her part in volunteering makes a bigger difference in more than one aspect.
"It helps build the relationship with the community," she said. "I live out in the Kempner - Lampasas area so building those ties and that connection to the community helps you relate and make a more enriched living environment.
If everyone is always mean and mistreating one another, then the environment you live in won't be very pleasant."
On top of her volunteering, Harrison is also the SFRL for the Greywolf Brigade who has recently deployed forward to the Republic of Korea. She feels that the two go hand in hand making her job more successful to the Soldiers and families who may need her assistance at any point.
"My volunteering only deepens the ties and the connections I have within the community," Harrison said. "If I reach out, most of the time the response I get is "Ok, I know Staff Sgt. Harrison and I know what she does" and often people will go out of their way to help me help the ones who need assistance."
While her brigade is deployed, her role as the SFRL is even more important providing resources to family members who otherwise may struggle while their Soldier is deployed.
"I make myself available to spouses and family members if they need information about the unit or need help with pay or childcare issues," she said. "It alleviates the stress that they are already facing with their Soldier deployed, and it makes it easier for them to handle their families and maintain their households."
It isn't just taking care of the family in these situations, it also is taking care of the Soldier because they are able to focus on what their mission is and not worry about what is going on at home."
Harrison is proud of her work as a volunteer and hopes that she can help others get into the spirit of giving back.
"I tell Soldiers that ask me, to find something they are passionate about and then just ask if they can help, and what will happen is they will build that family in their community and if ever they needed to reach back for help, they will have people around them they can rely on."