Fort Bragg recognized volunteers from across the installation for their service at the National Volunteer’s Appreciation Week Picnic, April 11, held at McKellar’s Lodge.
The 82nd Airborne Division Band All-American welcomed volunteers and guests alike with a jazz ensemble and various melodies.
“The picnic is a unique and growing installment for the community,” said Alice Stephens, Army Volunteer Corps Coordinator. “It is a small way to show big appreciation. Those who attend really enjoy the atmosphere and the tribute to the volunteers’ efforts. It is an opportunity for volunteers to connect with other like-minded people.”
The volunteer picnic, hosted by Army Volunteer Corps with various sponsors, offered guests outdoor dining, fishing accommodations at McKellar’s Pond, raffle drawings and a buffet. The buffet menu included fried chicken, pulled pork, baked beans, cornbread, potato salad and cupcakes.
With Family and community as the focal point of the event, Army Community Service (ACS) also offered outdoor activities for children such as a bounce house, face painting courtesy of ACS New Parent Support Program, cotton candy and a trackless train.
Special guest speaker, Col. Kyle Reed, Fort Bragg garrison commander, addressed the lodge of volunteers and their support systems.
On behalf of Lt. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, commander, XVIII Airborne Corps and senior commander of Fort Bragg, and Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Albertson, command sergeant major of the XVIII Airborne Corps, Reed expressed gratitude for the volunteer efforts, and distinguished the impact the volunteer contributions have made to the installation.
“It is truly telling, the support, of all of our volunteers,” Reed said. “When you look at the overall requirements on the installation, and understand the support that is needed, the efforts of our volunteers have not only helped the installation take care of Families, and the organizations, but also contribute to the overall community. We thank you for that.”
During National Volunteer Week, Fort Bragg units, garrison and agencies alike, celebrated the dedication and sacrifice of its volunteers. The Army’s theme this year is “the heart of the Army community.”
Volunteers play a vital and important role in keeping the programs on Fort Bragg running, in light of Army-wide cutbacks, as stated by Reed. Organizations such as the Red Cross, Airborne and Special Operations Museum, USO North Carolina at Fort Bragg, Womack Army Medical Center and Family Readiness Groups are just a few of the organizations that benefit from the volunteer commitment.
“If you look at the volunteer hours across the country right now, about eight billion hours are contributed by volunteers,” Reed said. “Here on this installation, the volunteer efforts were just shy of 4,000 people contributing their time last year. All of those people and hours added up equates to 580,000 hours of volunteer time, and significant support to the Fort Bragg community.”
As a symbol of the volunteer impact, Raymond Lacy, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, presented Reed and Command Sgt. Maj. William Lohmeyer, garrison command sergeant major, with a U.S. Army Volunteer Corps check to ACS and the Fort Bragg community, in the figurative dollar amount of $16,466,883.74 — an amount representative of the volunteers equivalent in time contributions.
“If volunteers were paid at the national rate of $24.14 per hour for their efforts, it would compare to the $16,466,883.74 monetary value,” Stephens said.
With 54,000 service members assigned to the installation and a deployment on the horizon, Reed reinforced the effect military Families and the community experience due to the Global War on Terrorism. He distinguished the command staff’s understanding of the sacrifice, commitment and support from the Families and community, and the significant nature in taking care of your own, reaching out across the community and helping others who help you.
“The heart of giving and the heart of this community is because of you,” Reed said. “This whole week is dedicated to you, the volunteers, not only for what you have done, and all the time you have spent away from your Families but contributing to the greater good of the community, this installation and to our nation.”
For more information on volunteering at Fort Bragg, visit https://bragg.armymwr.com/us/bragg/programs/acs-volunteer-program.