Editor’s note: This is part three of the Resolution Solution series on 2019 New Year’s goals. The topics encompass the seven dimensions of wellness and this week’s subject is volunteering.
When January rolled around, many turned the page to a new year and made time to do new things to feel more successful, such as volunteering more, said to Cathy Mansfield, Army Community Services (ACS) operations and support.
“It’s a fresh start,” said Mansfield, who is also the volunteer services coordinator at ACS.
According to Alice Stephens, Army Volunteer Corps coordinator, many in the Fort Bragg community are eager to help.
All volunteers who come through their organization can come from any background, including spouses who are unable to gain employment in their line of work after relocating to the area due to state licensing, so they turn to volunteering to keep their skills sharp.
“It’s hard to get jobs here,” Stephens said. “(Volunteering) is actually helping them mentally and physically because it helps them get out of the house to meet people, make new friends, make those connections and to give back to the community and Fort Bragg.”
Some Soldiers make it a point to volunteer to earn promotion points, according to both Mansfield and Stephens.
“They can earn the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal just from volunteering,” Stephens said.
To qualify and earn up to 15 promotion points, Soldiers must earn either 500 volunteer hours or three years of volunteer service, she added. But that’s not the only reason why Soldiers choose to volunteer. Some, especially younger single Soldiers, come from small towns and choose to do so to be plugged in to the community and learn more about the town they’re stationed in, said Mansfield.
“It’s something to get them involved in the community and gives them a better understand of what goes on around (town), that way they learn their way around,” she said.
Small but impactful volunteering goals are the most feasible because people can stay on the path to their resolution much easier over the course of the year, said Mansfield.
Volunteers tell the coordinators what they want to do and the staff will guide them, she added. Volunteering doesn’t have to be a massive commitment.
“If somebody wants to give a couple of hours a week or a couple of hours a month, there’s something out there for them,” she said. “We don’t want folks to think ‘I don’t want to volunteer because then I’ll get roped into doing all of this stuff I don’t have time to do.’”
The first step is to visit the ACS Volunteer Program office on the third floor of the Soldier Support Center. The staff will have all the resources setting those interested in giving back to a cause that caters to their availability and interest. ACS has a list of places looking for volunteers on post and off post. Additionally, they can get volunteers set up with logging their hours.
“Most of the Soldiers, especially the younger Soldiers, they want to volunteer on post because most don’t have a car,” Stephens said.
Soldiers get recognized for their volunteerism with the MOVSM award. Alternatively, so do thos who are not green suiters.
Fort Bragg honors Department of the Army civilians with their own level award, Family members of the installation with the Iron Mike Awards and/or Making A Difference award, Commander’s Award for Public Service, and more, according to Stephens.
“We also have Braggin’ Bucks,” she said. “We try to recognize our volunteers … It’s just an incentive to say ‘thank you for what you do.’ Every hour they log represents a buck. So if they’ve got 500 hours, they’ve got 500 (Braggin’) Bucks.”
These bucks can be used to “purchase” merchandise, such as the parachute lapel pin for 250 Braggin’ Bucks, at the volunteer office.
In 2017, volunteers have contributed $17 million worth of hours just through their charitable time on post, Stephens added.
Volunteerism is a much celebrated service at Fort Bragg. The next quarterly Iron Mike Awards ceremony is 4 p.m., Jan. 30 at the Iron Mike Conference Center. In April, the installation will celebrate National Volunteer Week.
For more information on how to participate or volunteer opportunities, call (910) 396-2458 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: Next week’s Resolution Solution is for those whose goal is to get back into the workforce.