By Trish Muntean, Fort Wainwright PAOMay 13, 2010
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Taking care of the Soldier and the family is what the Army Family Covenant is about. Deanna Combest, Soldier Actions Section of the Military Personnel Division is an excellent example of how to do just that.
When Sgt. Aaron Pena's step-father died a few months ago he needed a compassionate reassignment so that he could take care of his disabled mother and young siblings. His request was delayed by bureaucracy. His family needed him, but no one seemed to able to help until Combest got involved.
Pena says that Combest got involved during his second emergency leave in two months. She was "helpful with giving me guidance and updates on my re-assignment status," Pena said. When he went home on emergency leave for the third time in just a few months, Combest worked with the Human Resource Command to make sure his request for re-assignment was approved and he went home with orders.
"Thanks to her constant dedication to my situation I am now stationed in the area where my family is and I am now able to support them," said Pena
"Ms Combest worked tirelessly with the chain of command to resolve the situation," said Lt. Col. Jeff Stewart, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Pena was assigned to that unit at the time of his stepfather's death.
"She assisted SGT Pena with the appropriate compassionate reassignment request and remained in constant contact with the Soldier, providing updates and guidance," Stewart said. "Ms Combest's compassion and constant dedication assisted the unit, eased SGT Pena's transition, and ensured a solution which benefitted the Soldier, the family and the Army."
"She just really ran with it and was able to get the Soldier taken care of with relative ease and quickness," said Matthew Boucher, 1-24th S-1 NCOIC.
"Both civilian and military, we can get caught in the quagmire of the day- to- day frustrations of bureaucracy," Boucher said. "It was great, in something we don't typically work together on, the MPD and the battalion S-1, we were able to work together, to serve the Soldier the best."
Taking care of the Soldier is what Combest does every day. Her team leader, Timothy Hazzard said "Mrs. Combest is an excellent employee that goes out of her way to help each and every Soldier that needs her help."
"Mrs Combest puts 110 percent into everything she does and is very successful in getting actions thru in a very short time," Hazzard said. "She really cares while at the same time she gets results."
Combest has been working in the MPD since November 2009. It is her first job with the government. "When I started this job I was slightly overwhelmed at first with all the knowledge and Army language I would need to learn. Having never actually served in any branch of the military I knew nothing about the hundreds of acronyms that fly around our offices on a daily basis, Soldier actions, and especially Army regulations," Combest said.
"I enjoy knowing that I am helping Soldiers every day and to hear their positive feedback. I remember what it was like to be on the other side and am glad that I can do what I can to make their career and family life just that much better," said Combest. "I absolutely do not mind going that extra mile for someone when I know I am capable and it will only improve the situation. I would only hope that people would do the same for me," Combest said.
Combest is the mother of 19 month old Hudson, "the cutest little boy in the whole world," Combest said. "Just like every mother, I could talk for hours about everything about him, and he definitely keeps me busy!"
Combest says in her spare time she is a Polynesian dancer and has been since the time she could walk. The group she dances with performed at the Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage appreciation event here last week.
Combest also enjoys the outdoors. "I just like to get out, maybe throw the baby on my back and do a hike or go camping or boating. I was born and raised here in Fairbanks and love the outdoors," said Combest.
"She is a shining example of the type of DOD civilian we have here on Fort Wainwright," Steward said.