Recognizing the volunteer force

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Thomas Ausherman
  • 86th Force Support Squadron commander
The elimination of the draft in 1973 marked the beginning of the all-volunteer force in the United States military, but that's not the volunteer force I would like to address.

Instead, I'd like to highlight a volunteer force enhancing our local community.  Here at Ramstein  our "Volunteer Force" contributes in many ways, making our community a better, more fun place to live and serve.

Volunteering can take on many forms -- helping out for a few minutes with a pop-up project, committing to coaching a season of youth sports or agreeing to a tour-long obligation. Volunteering makes a meaningful, positive impact on our community and also benefits those volunteering.

The personal benefits of volunteering include being part of the community, developing new skills, meeting people, enhancing your resume, networking, improving the lives of others and mentoring.  Though not always the case, volunteering can often provide a gateway to employment.

Contributions, large and small, add up to make the KMC better while improving relationships and building partnerships with our host community. So although many view volunteering as its own reward, there are ways to recognize the outstanding efforts of volunteers in the community.

While a simple "thank you" goes a long way, there are several programs available to recognize volunteers.  In addition to recognition under our wing's annual awards program, the Air Force has two recognition programs to formally recognize volunteers.

The Air Force Volunteer Excellence Award recognizes federal civilians, family members, and military and federal retirees who perform outstanding volunteer community service of a sustained, direct and consequential nature.

Military members can be nominated for the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.  It is awarded to military members who provide sustained, significant service bringing about tangible results.  Award approval authority resides at the group commander level.  You can contact the military personnel section for guidance on this decoration.

If you'd like to volunteer or gather more information on the above recognitions programs, contact the A&FRC's Volunteer Coordinator at 480-5100. It's as easy as filling out the volunteer registration form, and you'll be contributing in no time.

Ultimately, volunteering involves donating your time for the benefit of others.  Unlike many things in life, volunteering gives you the freedom to decide on your terms what, when and how often you do it.  If you're not already part of the KMC's Volunteer Force, give it a try. You may find you like it. 

Whether you remain anonymous in your volunteer activities, log your contributions for certification by the A&FRC for future use or enjoy receiving recognition for your contributions, the choice is yours, and I thank you for making our community better.