USAGK recognizes volunteers with ceremony

by Mark Heeter

USAG Kaiserslautern Public Affairs

More than 30 individuals and groups, representing the roughly 1,600 registered volunteers in U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, were recognized in the annual volunteer recognition ceremony May 27 at Armstrong’s Club on Vogelweh.

“It’s amazing the contributions that you and those you represent here tonight make,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Hutchison, USAG-K commander, addressing the volunteers and their families at the beginning of the evening, which he called, “a small token of our appreciation for everything that you do.”

Retired Col. Leif Johnson, the keynote speaker for the ceremony and a volunteer himself, called volunteerism “the octane that keeps the community engine running smoothly.”

Tying volunteerism to mission readiness, Johnson recognized the act of giving of oneself for another’s benefit as part of the Army fabric.

“Volunteering has and always will be an integral and critical part of the Army experience and the military lifestyle,” he said.

The Kaiserslautern High School drama club and members of each of the military services performed and represented their service respectively.

The evening culminated with the presentation of dozens of awards to special volunteers, including top volunteers in each of six categories. Colonel Hutchison and Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Jessup then accepted a symbolic check for more than $3.1 million, the estimated monetary value of the volunteers’ more than 319,000 hours donated.

Dr. Sharon Stewart, who works at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and volunteers to help wounded warriors, was named the Volunteer of Distinction for her ground breaking efforts.

“It enriches me on every level,” Dr. Stewart said.  “You get back more than you give.”

Asked why she volunteers, Dr. Stewart again turned her focus to those she helps.

“It’s important to give back, and I think it’s important to give to the community you live in,” she said.

The major award winners were:

• Volunteer of Distinction: Dr. Sharon Stewart, Department of Behavioral Health, LRMC.

• Military member Volunteer of the Year: Hospital Corpsman Katherine Chih, USO Warrior Center and LRMC Family Readiness Group.

• Elaine Leist “Lead by Example” Award: Amanda Tucker, Department of Physical Therapy, LRMC.

• Teen Volunteer: Julia Cater, USAG-K Libraries.

• Youth Volunteer Group: Landstuhl Junior Torch Club, USAG-K CYSS-Landstuhl

School Age Center.

• Volunteer Group: American Red Cross-Landstuhl.