News: Soldier dedicates his time to volunteering
Story by Staff Sgt. Antwaun Parrish
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., -- “He was my best friend at Fort Carson, he was always the life of the party, he even took me skydiving for the first time,” said Spc. Brandon Willis. Unfortunately Willis’s friend took his life before their second deployment.
“I never saw it coming, which is why I want to make sure I know all I can about the soldiers in my brigade,” Willis said.
Now Willis dedicates a lot of his time to volunteering. The 42nd Military Police Brigade Better Opportunities for Single Service member’s representative wants to make sure that service members have something to do other than sitting around the barracks.
“I knew from talking to people that the perception was that there is nothing to do,” said Willis, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 42nd MP Bde. “When I first got to the brigade I tried organizing a snowboarding trip and realized that we needed a brigade representative, and I felt like I could do it.”
For Willis, being stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. is like being home. He grew up only 19 miles away in Yelm, Wash. Raised by Air Force parents, he feels that it’s all his community and he enjoys giving back to it anyway he can.
“I would always come on base as a kid for swimming and other activities,” Willis said. “JBLM is a part of me as much as Yelm or Tacoma.”
Willis stands out among his peers; he spends an abundant amount of his personal time volunteering for the BOSS program and his brigade’s Family Readiness Group as the fundraiser coordinator.
The FRG’S are set in place as a support element for the unit and typically are made up of family members. But Willis was tasked with incorporating the BOSS program into the FRG agenda; after his first meeting he was hooked.
“After the first meeting I knew there was more I wanted to do to help our families,” said Willis, a signal support specialist. “Families are the backbone of the brigade.”
Willis believes that by getting soldiers more involved it will resonate throughout the brigade.
“I just want to increase the esprit de corps, pride and morale,” Willis said. “For me being a local I know there’s more to here than just the rain.”
Volunteering is a fairly new experience for the 24-year-old. In April he signed up to assist with clean up efforts at Fort Steilacoom Park, and that event ignited the spark to do more in the community.
“It was my stepping stone and it grew my passion from there,” Willis said.
Spc. Sable Myers, the JBLM BOSS president, believes that one event stands out the most when describing how dedicated he is.
“In the last couple of months he has volunteered for every event,” Myers said. “I know whenever I call him he is always willing to help. He was the only volunteer to participate all three days during the Special Olympics. He’s the best volunteer we have.”
The FRG leader is also grateful for his hard work and dedication towards helping the members of the brigade.
“He’s just a dedicated caring person who truly cares about the soldiers and families around him,” said Sophia Sweeney, 42nd MP Brigade FRG leader. “Since he has been in charge of the fundraisers we have made a lot of money. He has taken initiative to lead most of the fundraisers. Even during his lunch break he’ll go change out of his uniform to help us then go back to work. He’s just a great person.”
Even though everyone speaks highly of his dedication to the soldiers and families of the brigade, Willis remains humble and doesn’t lose sight of why he volunteers.
“It’s not a big deal, I get more out of knowing it helps others,” he said. “To me it’s just another day, helping the team.”
Willis exemplifies the Army Values by selflessly using his own personal time towards the benefit of others.
“I encourage soldiers to volunteer, it’s a selfless act but rewarding,” concluded Willis.