Volunteers recognized for thousands of hours of service
Story by U.S. Army Spc. John Stimac
139th Mobile Public Affairs
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION- Q-West, Iraq — A banquet was held at the Sgt. Audie Murphy room at Q-West, Iraq, Sept. 15. to recognize volunteers with the 16th Sustainment Brigade’s chaplain programs.
The 16th Sust. Bde., out of Bamberg, Germany, is serving its last few weeks of a 15-month deployment at Q-West.
Maj. James R. Boulware, the 16th’s chaplain and a Radcliff, Ky., native, said the Soldiers used volunteer work to keep their minds off the long deployment.
“It kept up their spiritual, emotional and mental fitness, and was a great morale booster,” said Boulware. “If things were not going well at work, the volunteer work seemed to bring joy and satisfaction to them when they were at the chapel.”
Boulware said the volunteers serve weekly – in chapel services and programs such as music ministries, making bulletins, teaching and simply providing an extra pair of hands.
Throughout the course of the deployment, volunteers have also helped with events including prayer breakfasts, women’s and men’s conferences and a Mother’s Day luncheon, Boulware said.
The volunteers, who arrived in July 2008, implemented and hosted the conferences, he said.
“These Soldiers started a lot of new programs,” said Boulware. “We provided them with the resources, encouragement and guidance, and they did the rest.”
Sgt. Maj. Betty Bowers, the 16th Sust. Bde. support operations sergeant major and a Mount Pleasant, S.C., native, said she participates in the gospel service and has been the head usher for the entire deployment.
“It brings me a great joy that I can serve others,” said Bowers. “That is what volunteering is all about.”
Roughly 40 Soldiers were recognized for their service with certificates of appreciation handed out by Boulware and Col. Martin B. Pitts, commander of the 16th Sust. Bde.
Two Soldiers were distinguished as volunteers of the deployment, including Capt. Antinita Graham, the 16th Sust. Bde. support operations officer and a Houston native.
Graham said she has led the multi-cultural gospel service, planned both women’s conferences, assisted in baptisms and volunteered in whatever capacity was needed.
“Everybody has a purpose in life; my purpose is to serve God and help people live better, happier and stress-free lives,” said Graham. “Volunteering makes it a lot easier to cope with all the issues and stress that go along with long deployments.”
The dinner ended with a cake-cutting ceremony and closing words from Boulware.
“We want to just say thank you for the thousands of hours you have given to volunteer,” said Boulware. “Thank you for all your hard work and for sharing your gifts and talents.”
Col. Martin B. Pitts, commander, 16th Sustainment Brigade, and Maj. James R. Boulware, 16th Sust. Bde. Chaplain, present a certificate of appreciation to Sgt. Joseph Hernandez, the 16th Sust. Bde. night operations noncommissioned officer in charge and a Portsmouth, Va., native. Hernandez volunteered as a drummer for the entire 15-month deployment.