By Sgt. Courtney A. Selig, First Army Division East Public AffairsJanuary 16, 2013
The life of a Soldier -- wake up before dawn, go to formation, conduct physical training, get cleaned up and head to work until at least five o'clock in the evening. At this point, they have already been working for more than 12 hours, but for some, the day doesn't end when they leave the office.
For one particular Soldier, the uniform comes off, but the work continues.
Spc. Hillary Vincent, a paralegal at First Army Division East, frequently volunteers after her duty day ends, helping families in need, at several charities and organizations. Not only is the 24-year old working on some of the top military cases in the Army, she's also a full-time student.
"She demonstrates the epitome of one of the core values for the Army -- Selfless Service -- on a regular, consistent, basis," said Maj. Gregory Eldridge, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, First Army Division East.
Eldridge added that Vincent's ability to manage her time with work, school, and volunteering, happily and willingly, sets her apart from her peers.
"Her volunteer efforts have truly demonstrated a selfless service spirit," said Eldridge. "Her enthusiasm, dedication, and personal conduct have greatly benefited the Fort Meade community, and the various organizations that she has given her time to."
Vincent has been volunteering for more than four years at multiple locations, including the Ronald McDonald House, where she spends most of her time. The Ronald McDonald House is an organization which allows families with sick and hospitalized children to stay for low to no cost.
"The first time I volunteered I was at the Ronald McDonald House in North Carolina," she said. "This organization supports families throughout the world. The Ronald McDonald House holds a soft spot in my heart because my family has had to use this organization, and I've been able to witness firsthand how supportive they are to families in need."
Vincent added that by volunteering she feels she's able to help those who are enduring hardships in their lives. It gives her a sense of pride seeing how appreciative those who are receiving the services are toward her and the other volunteers.
"My favorite part about volunteering is seeing how happy the children are, even when they're enduring sicknesses," said Vincent. "Their ability to persevere and continue to be in high spirits, while going through treatments like chemo, is incredible. Adults complain about headaches, a hurt knee, and little things, while these children are just happy to be alive for another day."
Vincent also said volunteering is a genuine eye-opening experience and makes her feel fortunate for what she has in life. She frequently asks her friends and co-workers to come along.
"It's a great opportunity for me, and them, to do something for their community and those in need," said Vincent.
Sgt. David Silbaugh, an administrative noncommissioned officer with First Army Division East, has been volunteering with Vincent for more than six months now and has attended multiple events to include volunteering with the Ronald McDonald House and Make a Wish Foundation.
"When Hillary first invited me to volunteer, nearly six months ago, I was excited," said Silbaugh. "Of course I'd help the children -- there wasn't a question in my mind."
He and his wife intend to join Vincent in volunteering with the Special Olympics this year, too.
"I have fun when I'm volunteering, and I've enjoyed the experience so far," said Silbaugh.
He went on to add that he will, without a doubt, continue to volunteer, even after leaving Fort Meade, Md.
In 2012, Spc. Hillary Vincent received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious volunteer service from May 2009 until June 2012.
"I could choose to not be in school and not volunteer," said Vincent. "However, I feel that by doing both of these, I am able to better myself and make a difference within my community."
Vincent, like all other active duty Soldiers, will eventually be stationed somewhere different than Fort Meade. When that time comes, she said she will continue to volunteer within her community and at different organizations.
"Volunteering for me will never end," said Vincent. "It's become part of who I am."