The military relies on volunteers to make things happen. And while we may not like it, that’s how it is. So why not use the time we spend on these leadership opportunities to benefit us later on? Those volunteer hours and responsibilities can fit into a resume, help you learn skills that will lead to a job at the next duty station, or simply give you a break from your crazy kiddos.
We won’t even pretend that these four ideas are the only ones available on your installation — or the only ones connected with the military community. But, these are the ones we want to make sure you know about and ones we’ve done ourselves.
Let’s talk about spouses’ clubs for a hot minute. Gone are the days of white-gloved tea parties and rank-specific organizations…mostly. These days spouses’ clubs are inclusive — to the point that some even include civilian spouses in the community. They focus on fundraising (and giving it all back to the community) and building relationships. From bunco to bazaars to luncheons and wine.
Spouses’ clubs are governed by a board, which means there are a variety of leadership positions available. Some of the more time-intensive positions include the executive board, fundraiser chairs, and the publicity chair. Others may keep you busy for a few hours a week. Regardless of your desired level of involvement, at the end of the year, you can be proud of what your club has accomplished.
Other Private Organizations and Non-Profits
If the spouses’ club isn’t your thing, or they don’t have your dream position open, consider other private organizations. These are often non-profits that are allowed to operate on the installation, but aren’t endorsed by it or the Department of Defense. Trust us, that last sentence is an important one. And now that we think about it, most spouses’ clubs are also private organizations. Anyway.
One of our favorite private organizations is the Fort Gordon Christmas House. Each year, this organization provides toys, books, and commissary gift cards to junior enlisted military families. The available leadership roles include inventory, treasurer, fundraising, executive positions, and volunteer coordinator. When you can serve over 200 families and 600 children year after year, that leadership role gets some serious street cred.
Many installations around the globe have similar philanthropic programs with plenty of opportunities to get your leadership experience and make an impact on the community all in one swoop.
Special Events Leadership Opportunities
An event designer once said that the difference between planning and designing is the holistic approach. What better way to contribute to an organization than to design their event? Heaven knows the military community has plenty of events. You can sign up to handle a big or small event, maybe start with the Trunk or Treat and work your way up to the Holiday Ugly Sweater Party or even the birthday ball planning committee.
And speaking of birthday balls, one great way to gain some experience is to plan a formal event. There are so many moving parts and leadership opportunities, ranging from budgeting to ticket sales to catering arrangements. Add in the scheduled briefing of the commanding officer and writing an after-action report, and you’ll hit all the major wickets for a large-scale planning event. That’ll look good on a resume, we promise.
Family Team Building
Part of volunteering is giving back, and one great way to do that is to mentor and teach new spouses. Most of the branches have some great classes and programs that you can teach that go over the traditions, protocols, and acronyms of a specific branch. The COMPASS, AFTB, LINKS, and Heartlink classes also need some help with publicity and organization — this may be a great fit for you!
Don’t Forget These Things
While you’re busy volunteering and making a difference in your community, we want you to keep in mind these important things:
- Your family is important and should come before volunteer obligations.
- Keep track of your hours.
- Write a job description so you can remember everything you did later on — you know, like when you’re updating your resume.
- Smile — your dedication is infectious and you’ll want others to join you.
Good luck with your volunteer leadership opportunities. While it may only be for a season, you can make it an awesome season and leave the organizations in a better state than you found them.