Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes and from all backgrounds. One day the phone rang at Volunteer Fairfax and it was the Joint Command, Office of Military Commissions (DOD).  They were seeking volunteer opportunities. These are folks in uniform. They have already pledged to protect and defend the country and yet they still want to give.

On the phone was Petty Officer Chris Petrill, Sailor and Legalman 2nd class from Northport, NY. His day job is much more intense than most volunteer assignments will ever be! Perrty Officer Petrill is assigned to the Office of the Chief Prosecutor at the Office of Military Commissions. For those who may not be aware, a military commission is a military court of law. Petrill’s primary role is to assist in the prosecution of those individuals detained as enemy belligerents who are charged with violating the law of war. This is a joint command, employing military from the Navy, Marines, Army, and Air Force, as well as DOD and DOJ civilians.

In researching volunteer opportunities, Petrill found Volunteer Fairfax and contacted Volunteers for Change. He invited the VFC program manager to their facilities to conduct an orientation for the Joint Command group.  Petrill explained they needed service options they can fit into their responsibilities and deployments. Through the VF/VFC monthly calendar and annual events, military personnel can plan their participation accordingly.

Says Petrill, “Volunteer Fairfax has provided service members with numerous rewarding volunteer opportunities despite our busy and unpredictable schedules. From my perspective, I am always heartened to know that despite my demanding schedule, Volunteer Fairfax always has a reliable monthly schedule with daily events. Thanks to your wonderful organization, I can schedule group events, allowing numerous active duty military personnel to serve the community in which they serve.”

There is no requirement for service members to volunteer but Petrill explains that there are several reasons why they do: They feel good about doing it; They are gratified at the end of a volunteer job well done; Volunteering is an opportunity to interact with each other outside of their usual rank; and, they get to put service hours on their “Evals” (evaluations).

Upon deployment, the good works continue!  Service members carry out volunteer projects in places around the world. Petrill shared that they built an orphanage in Panama City and performed maintenance on a boys and girls club in Costa Rica.  In Hawaii, they gave tours on the USS Missouri and hosted an ice cream social with elder veterans.

“Service activities while deployed,” Petrill added, “help the military to build goodwill.  In fact, sometimes we have so many members sign up to participate that we end up having to turn volunteers away!”

Job well done, Petty Officer Petrill, both at home and away!  Volunteer Fairfax says, “Thank you and welcome aboard.”

We share this story in November, the month in which we recognize the service of our veterans, as well as give thanks for our blessings.  There are opportunities to put your gratitude into action by signing up to volunteer in our community. Check out Volunteers for Change. Just click here!