By Scott Prater
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Nearly two dozen soldiers from the 615th Engineer Construction Company, 4th Engineer Battalion recently worked a full day at Silver Key Senior Services, volunteering their time and energy to sort items, move equipment and clean up facilities. It was all part of a unit service project, organized by unit members and assisted by the Fort Carson Army Volunteer Corps (AVC).
“We call these volunteer activities unity service projects,” said Celsa Day, coordinator, Fort Carson AVC. “Staff Sgt. Michael Maasjo contacted me a while ago and said members of his unit wanted to find a volunteer opportunity, so I put him in touch with Silver Key Senior Services, and they coordinated a date and activity together.
Day explained that soldiers, units, and family members can set up a volunteer activity on their own, but starting with coordination through AVC can be beneficial in many ways.
“We have the knowledge and information on many local community nonprofits and can help Army units and individuals find the exact volunteer opportunity that’s right for them,” Day said. . “In addition, we can help ensure soldiers’ volunteer hours are tracked and credited for their work.”
This is a key point for volunteers, as soldiers can earn promotion points and credits for medals and citations if their volunteer work is properly tracked and verified.
“It’s really sad to hear that some volunteers don’t get credit for their career advancement and enhancement simply because they didn’t know how to record and validate their volunteer work,” Day said. “That’s one of the reasons we want soldiers to visit us at AVC before they start their volunteering project.”
Day explained that AVC personnel can help volunteers set up an account through the Army’s Volunteer Management Information System (VMIS) which allows soldiers to log their volunteer time and track it. have it checked. And the account will follow a soldier no matter where they are stationed, successfully keeping a record of their volunteer experiences throughout their career in the military.
Besides accountability, the other important aspect of using Fort Carson AVC is accountability.
“We make sure that the bodies of soldiers who go to an organization are covered under the auspices of that nonprofit organization,” Day said. “For example, the 615th Eng. Soldiers who volunteered with Silver Key Senior Services and the recent group of 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Soldiers who recently volunteered with the Girl Scouts of America were covered by these nonprofits. If a soldier has been injured while volunteering, he is covered and taken care of. The soldier’s command team is covered if there are injuries during the soldier’s volunteer work. »
With many nonprofits operating in the Pikes Peak area, Day said there are no shortage of volunteer opportunities for soldiers and units.
“We are looking for volunteers to support a meals-on-wheels route, for example,” she said. “Many of the older people in the area are veterans who may not have family or friends locally or at this point in their lives. We have a soldier who works with a local little league and wants to involve soldiers and veterans in mentoring and coaching.
Most volunteer opportunities at AVC fall under Fort Carson’s Operation Good Samaritan.
“There are so many organizations that fall under Operation Good Samaritan that it would be difficult to name them all,” Day said. “Individuals interested in volunteering should simply contact us at AVC at 719-526-1082 for more information.”