I started volunteering with the National Military Family Association at the beginning of 2017. I had been volunteering within my spouse’s squadron, and on our installation for a few years, but I was interested in doing more. I wanted to make connections with other spouses across different branches, and do things I felt would make a bigger impact in the greater community and on a national level.
My installation already had two volunteers that work with NMFA, but I saw there was still an opportunity for more involvement on our installation; we all have our own concerns and niches so there is enough work for everyone. There have been events such as the Wings Over Dover Air Show in the summer of 2017 that we are able to work together on.
After I went through the onboarding process, I started working primarily with the Airman & Family Readiness Center (A&FRC) to promote the Operation Purple Camps to deployed families. I attend their quarterly Deployed Families Dinners, where I run an information table and share the NMFA mission and programs. I have also worked with our Spouse Education & Employment Coordinator to promote the spouse scholarships.
In my time with NMFA, I have made many connections on a professional level, as well as personal friends through networking events and the Facebook volunteer community. It has been a great joy to see what other volunteers are up to and then get to meet them in person at an event…it feels like you already know someone and what they do in their community through social media.
Another thing that I have found very exciting about working with NMFA has been being close to the Washington D.C. area. My volunteer position with NMFA has given me the opportunity to participate in several events in the area that I most likely would not have been involved with otherwise. One of these was a Congressional Reception at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, which was my first “official” activity with the Association. I also got to lay Christmas wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, which was a huge honor and a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I see a long volunteer career for myself with National Military Family Association. There are many worthy causes and initiatives that we are working on and there are always new things popping up, so I don’t see this slowing down or stopping any time soon! Even if my family has to PCS, I know there will be an opportunity for me at our next location and on into our post-military civilian chapter of life.
I feel NMFA genuinely cares for and values its volunteer corps through the ways they reach out to the volunteers for feedback and commentary about causes and upcoming activities. I like the flexibility of being able to decide what to participate in and how I am able to serve. I work full time outside of NMFA and I have been able to balance my volunteering and advocacy with my job and my own family life, which is important to me.
As much as I have helped the National Military Family Association, they have helped me through showing me ways that I can help others and being engaged within our military community. I feel like the projects and activities I have through my traditional employment and volunteering/advocacy work have made me a more satisfied, well-rounded spouse and have helped me on a personal level.
If you’re looking for a way to get involved and make a difference in the lives of military families in your area, consider joining me in volunteering with NMFA!
Posted by Jennifer Burns, NMFA Volunteer and 2017 Volunteer Corps Service Award recipient