By Col. Deborah B. Grays, Fort McPherson/Gillem commanderMay 4, 2010
FORT McPHERSON, Ga. - As Soldiers, we're reminded countless times, usually in joking tones, that it's in our best interest never to volunteer for anything.
Thankfully, there are hundreds of individuals on Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem who understand that advice is best not followed.
April is National Volunteer Month, with the theme "Celebrating People in Action."
The theme captures the meaning behind this signature week - honoring the individuals who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in their communities The Soldiers and Civilian employees of this command live that theme every day.
In the Army, we often talk of force multipliers ... better-trained Soldiers, superior equipment, more powerful weapons ... but a force multiplier we often overlook is our volunteers.
They are the quiet force that provides programs and services for Soldiers and their Families.
All too often, we take these individuals and the services they provide for granted because they are always there, quietly working, whether up front or behind the scenes, performing tasks important to the installations.
Every customer on our two installations has benefited or will benefit from a service available only because we have such dedicated volunteers.
After all, without these selfless individuals, who would: Tackle a Family move without the benefit of the services of volunteers at Army Community Services'
Provide counseling in countless areas, from personal finances to how to cope, while a loved one might be in harm's way'
Be available to supply detailed information about that next assignment and make the move, to an unfamiliar base thousands of miles and maybe a country away, a little easier to accept'
Be able to help our military community members get over crisis situations by initiating and following the Army Emergency Relief request process'
Run our annual Holiday Voucher Program, helping hundreds of Soldiers' Families over the years and brightening the holidays both for those who give and those who receive'
Help the Staff Judge Advocate staff ensure Soldiers and their Families receive free, professional federal income tax completion and filing assistance each year'
Assist our chaplains as they tend to people's souls, or the clinic staff as it tends to patients' bodies'
Provide the extra sets of loving hands that ensure our children at the Child Development Center are healthy, happy, comforted and read to' Volunteers fill these voids, and so many more, throughout our military community.
Wednesday, I had the great honor of hosting a volunteer recognition appreciation reception at The Commons at Fort McPherson.
In 2009, 769 volunteers worked for 33,607 man-hours throughout Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, saving the garrison $680,541.75 in manhours worked.
That's money I would have had to pay individuals to do those same tasks, but instead can use to help meet the garrison's financial needs.
I'm looking forward to formally recognizing the special contributions this large group of heroes have provided.
At a time when budget constraints are becoming tighter and personnel shortages are becoming the norm, it's these volunteers who ensure many of the services and events we enjoy and benefit from continue to be available ... without their service, I couldn't afford to provide many of these amenities, especially not at the extremely high level of service our volunteer force provides.
Volunteers have been there for us, whatever the task, anytime, anywhere we needed an extra hand, and I appreciate it more that can be said in words. Volunteers demonstrate daily the proud tradition of Army volunteer service and I am proud to command a post where volunteerism is such a large part of life.
Volunteers, you are a true force multiplier.