GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — From the onset of basic training, Soldiers are warned by their peers to avoid volunteering. The scary unknown detail looms ahead for any volunteers crazy enough to raise their hand.


Not taking that advice, I volunteered for a detail during basic that paid off in spades. I had to pick a team comprised of eye-rolling Soldiers to assist me … yes, I was quite unpopular that day. After team selection, we were then instructed that we were to start our detail at night, while others were getting much-needed rest. We were to pull security on a concert. We were rewarded with as much soda, pizza and candy we could eat, and we could sleep in the next morning. This smorgasbord occurred at a time when drill sergeants removed candy and cakes from the meals, ready to eat. I quickly rose in popularity with the team.


All kidding aside, I volunteer because it is ingrained in my being to give back to the country that has provided so much hope and opportunity to a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks.


Normally, I work as a Department of the Army civilian. Since arriving in country, I have been unable to gain local employment. Mostly because my like-minded spouse also works in the same field and we cannot work in the same chain of command. So what does that leave a girl to do? Volunteer.


I decided that since this issue would follow me everywhere we PCS, one of us must make a change in career field. I knew I was interested in other fields, but how does one just start working in a new field without experience? Well, it is next to impossible to be hired without experience in a new field. Then, what if I do not like it? Who wants to be stuck in a new field they hate? Hating your job makes going to work a chore.


Then it happened … an opportunity presented itself. So here I am volunteering at public affairs and guess what – I love it. I love writing, social media and learning. I am learning valuable and marketable skills that could lead me to a completely different path. This new path will never clash with my spouse’s career regardless of where the Army sends us next.


My advice to you is to put your neck out and try something new. Volunteer in an area you are interested in before you spend money and time getting a degree in that field. Find out the positives and negatives before you invest. Volunteer in that new field and figure out if it is a good fit, sort of like leasing before buying.


Keep in mind that our Army carries a long tradition of volunteering, especially since the end of the draft. We all have something that draws us to this life of service. Maybe you do it for college money, family tradition or a myriad of other reasons, but for me volunteering has always paid off.

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