News Icon

News: 1st Air Cav warrant officer puts others before self, volunteers to better community

Story by Sgt. Christopher CalvertSmall RSS IconSubscriptions Icon

1st Air Cav warrant officer puts others before self, volunteers to better community Sgt. Christopher Calvert

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Penny Johnson, an electronic warfare technician with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, poses for a photo at Hood Army Airfield, Fort Hood, Texas, Jan. 29. Johnson is actively using her past experiences of dealing with physical and emotional abuse in a relationship to help others in the local community who are undergoing the same struggles.

FORT HOOD, Texas – Being a soldier and a single mother of two, some might say she has her work cut out for her.

But one warrant officer in the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade hasn’t let this stop her from volunteering her time to organizations in Virginia and Texas for the better part of the last decade.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Penny Johnson, an electronic warfare technician with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Air Cav. Bde., 1st Cavalry Division, has consistently volunteered her time twice a week to sexual assault and domestic violence shelters, child development centers, and family advocacy programs since 2008.

“I feel like I’m giving back to the community to those who need it the most,” said the Victoria, Va., native. “It’s all about helping someone other than just yourself.”

Johnson enlisted in the military as a watercraft operator in 2005. During this time, she advanced from the rank of private to staff sergeant in five years.

However, the road to entering the military was not without challenges.

“I got married when I was 18,” Johnson said. “Shortly after, I became pregnant, and my husband began being abusive.”

Despite the harassment, Johnson was able to break away from the abusive relationship and use her experiences as a way to help others enduring similar struggles.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to be there for people who are in the same situation I was in,” Johnson said. “Just knowing there’s a place for women and children to go to in similar situations makes volunteering especially meaningful. It makes me think what I went through was worth it.”

In 2010, she became a marine deck officer, all the while continuing to volunteer her time to read, create arts and crafts, and bake desserts with children once a week at the local child development center in Virginia.

Johnson also sat in on anger management classes as part of the Family Advocacy Program, helping to provide a first-hand viewpoint based on her experiences dealing with resentment, she said.

“The children were always excited to see me at the CDC, and I was just as excited to see them,” Johnson said. “I also enjoyed sitting in on the anger management classes, because I felt I had something to give, a way to help, as I have been in the same shoes. It’s great being able to contribute to making someone else’s life better by using the things I’ve learned.”

Shortly after arriving to Fort Hood in April 2013, Johnson became a sexual harassment/assault response and prevention officer for the brigade and immediately began researching local shelters where she could volunteer.

She even spearheaded the brigade’s Make a Difference Day in October 2013, during which Johnson and about 40 Soldiers helped clean and maintain a local sexual assault and domestic violence shelter in Killeen, Texas.

“The event was a huge success,” Johnson said. “We worked together that day and performed yard work, moved furniture, cleaned windows, and many individuals donated used goods to help the families living there. I was impressed so many people showed up, and the shelter is better now because of it.”

Sgt. 1st Class Mariel Morgan, the 1st Air Cav. Bde. career counselor with HHC, participated in the Make a Difference Day event, and volunteers her time to the Texas Humane Heroes animal shelter in Killeen on a weekly basis.

Being a fellow volunteer, Morgan said she knows the drive it takes to consistently spend hours on the weekends helping those who are in a bad way.

“I think what Miss Johnson does is awesome,” said Morgan, a Caguas, Puerto Rico, native. “She’s a single parent, an officer, and a SHARP, yet she still finds time to volunteer and give back.”

Morgan said local community organizations could benefit from more volunteers chipping in their free time and commended the soldiers and family members who go out of their way to better others’ lives.

“Some organizations make it on a daily basis because of volunteers like Miss Johnson and me, and they could always use more help,” Morgan said. “Everything we do ultimately makes a difference.”

Johnson said the years of volunteer service have helped define her as a mother and soldier, and she looks forward to continually helping the local community, one family at a time.

“Volunteering has become part of who I am,” Johnson said. “I will continue doing my part, and I won’t be stopping any time soon.”


Connected Media
Images1st Air Cav warrant...
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Penny Johnson, an electronic...


Web Views
53
Downloads
0

Podcast Hits
0



Public Domain Mark
This work, 1st Air Cav warrant officer puts others before self, volunteers to better community, by SGT Christopher Calvert, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:01.31.2014

Date Posted:01.31.2014 11:08

Location:FORT HOOD, TX, USGlobe

Hometown:CAGUAS, PR

Hometown:VICTORIA, VA, US

More Like This

  • More than 23 years of enlisted and commissioned service to the Army Medical Department culminated in a single moment for the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade’s physician assistant.
  • BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan -- U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bob Cuyler is on a quest.  The tactical operations officer for Task Force Falcon, 10th Mountain Division, runs a half-marathon every single week.  That’s 13.1 miles in a single outing every seven days.  By the end of the year, Cuyler hopes to add those distances to a total of 681.2 miles run.
  • The relentless nature of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade aviation mission requires aircraft to be in the air at all times.
  • Selfless service, bravery in the face of extreme opposition, courage under fire, all these words can be used to describe Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Leipold, a native of Hollidaysburg, Pa., and an AH-64D Apache helicopter maintenance test pilot for B Company, 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, who was recently awarded the Air Medal with V device for valor for his actions here, Oct. 4.

Options

  • Army
  • Marines
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • National Guard

HOLIDAY GREETINGS

SELECT A HOLIDAY:

VIDEO ON DEMAND

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Flickr