Volunteering as a Civilian
By Caryl Dresher, Volunteer Writer, Eastern Region
As a civilian, I can only see the military community and our Soldiers from the outside. I do not experience the realities facing Soldiers and their families on an everyday basis. I am grateful for the sacrifices our military families make for our country. I am in awe of the commitment, dedication, and skill it takes to protect us all. If I am too old to make a difference in a direct role (there are age cut offs for service), I know I must do something concrete to show my appreciation in this era of post 9/11 realities. So, how do I express my gratitude?
I can do so little in comparison, but I know I have to express my thanks in some way and I have a lot to learn about military families, military culture, and what is helpful to the greater good. I have tried volunteering with other groups that would let me answer phones and give out coffee, but I never felt this was enough. These tasks did not require my taking responsibility for reaching past the momentary interaction to make a real difference in the lives of families. The first lesson I learned at the National Military Family Association is that military families do not need a “bake sale” approach for support.
The organization has departments, a mission, and access to the Nation’s leaders to make a lasting difference in the lives of military families. It is the job of a Volunteer who wants to make a difference to take the counsel and guidance of their coordinator and the Volunteer Services Department to grow into their role and to learn the different tasks assigned to volunteers. This is how we support the programs and mission of the Association.
Being a former college professor, I am excited about education as a vehicle for improving a family’s life prospects. It is amazingly gratifying to reach out and share the possibility of scholarships with military spouses. As an aunt, it is soul satisfying to see children of military families at Operation Purple® Camps. It is humbling and awe inspiring to read about the work the Association staff and representatives do on a daily basis.
I feel like my volunteering with National Military Family Association is meaningful, and even though my thank you is like a whisper in the night in comparison to all the sacrifices made on the Nation’s behalf, I am grateful for the opportunity. I am sure there are many others like me in communities around the country looking for a way to say thank you.
Return to Full Issue
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
Sign up to receive periodic eNews and alerts.
Want up-to-date information and a community of people that care about military families?