More than 2,000 volunteers contributed more than 91,000 hours of work last year to the Fort Benning community. That saved the post about $1.9 million, as illustrated with a ceremonial check presented by Starla Desaussure, the post volunteer coordinator, to MG Michael Ferriter, Fort Benning’s commanding general, during the volunteer recognition ceremony April 29.
The volunteers’ time — representing more than 11,400 eight-hour work days or 43 years of work — greatly improves the quality of life of Soldiers and their families, Ferriter said. “On an average day, more than 150 individuals volunteer here, and most volunteer in more than one organization,” he said. “They work with school children and Soldiers, wounded warriors, veterans, new mothers, new Army wives, the sick and the disabled. … Just as the NCO is the backbone of the Army, the volunteer is the backbone of the Army community.” Thirty-six volunteers received the “Volunteer of Excellence” award and five organizations where named organizations of excellence during the ceremony — more than ever before, Desaussure said.
Volunteering can help people learn new skills, make friends, support their children and even find a job, she said, and the volunteers help keep the installation running smoothly. “If all of our volunteers stopped coming out here today, we wouldn’t have any drivers at the hospital, we wouldn’t have a lot of the daily functions the Red Cross performs … we wouldn’t have any coaches or instructors for Child, Youth and School Services. There wouldn’t be a lot of things.”
Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Desaussure at 706-545-3016.
Volunteer spotlights: Three individuals behind local community services
SGT Jeff Morataya Warrior Transition Battalion
While healing from an injury he received in Iraq, SGT Jeff Morataya stays in shape by coaching three soccer teams, ages 6 to 11, he said.
“I just think it’s important for the kids, especially for those kids whose parents are deployed. They need (to) go out in the field and just have a good time,” he said. The youth teams can improve morale for the families, too, Morataya said.
“I think it brings families together,” he said. “Every Saturday I have every single parent out there cheering for their kid. It’s all about them. I just do it because I love it.”
Tammie Carney Army spouse
“I am considered a volunteer junkie. Wherever they need me, I volunteer,” said Tammie Carney, who volunteers with the 30th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception) Family Readiness Group, Army Community Service, the National Infantry Museum and the AAFES gift wrapping program.
“It’s a great way to meet your neighbors. Also, it helps with job skills,” said Carney, who PCSed to Fort Benning in October.
For any volunteering position, there are people just waiting to offer training, guidance and support, she said.
“There’s always a place for you to fit in, no matter what skill level you are,” she said. “I believe we all have a lot to offer. We all have different backgrounds — different situations we’ve been through — to help others.”
MAJ(R) Bill Putman Retired DoD Civilian
“They say if you retire and sit down, you’ll die, and if you try and keep going you’ll live on, so I choose to keep going,” said MAJ(R) Bill Putman, who serves as the financial manager for Bit of Benning and the president for the Parish Council of the Infantry Center Chapel. He also sings in the chapel choir.
“I started singing in the choir there when I was a lieutenant (in 1957), so as long as I can still sing, why quit?” he said.
Putman said volunteering makes him feel like he’s helping out.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “You get to meet new people all the time. As long as I’m needed and I’m able to do what I’m needed to do, I’ll continue to volunteer.”