Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, outgoing 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, Cynthia Piatt and Col. Kenneth D. Harrison, Fort Drum garrison commander, hold the ceremonial check signifying the dollar amount of volunteer hours contributed by Fort Drum community members in 2018. (Glenn Wagner)
Fort Drum community honors its volunteers
Longtime USO contributor named Woman of the Mountain
Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (May 2, 2019) – Fort Drum’s volunteers took center stage April 29 during the annual Volunteer of the Year ceremony at the Commons.
Cynthia Piatt, wife of Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, outgoing 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, described the installation’s volunteers as the heart that sustains vitality to the community.
“Without you, the Army community would fail,” she said. “Many of you wear multiple hats. You balance careers, families and volunteer, or are students, athletes and volunteers – or quite possibly all of the above.”
Piatt said that some people volunteer for one event, one season or sometimes a lifetime, but everyone does it for a reason.
“You may have started just to gain experience, to remedy boredom, to build a resume, to gain volunteer hours toward another goal or because someone encouraged you,” she said. “Often why you started and why you continue are very different reasons. I’m grateful for both – that you started and that you continued to serve as volunteers. Please continue what you are doing … you are making a difference.”
Col. Kenneth D. Harrison, Fort Drum garrison commander, also thanked all of the volunteers in attendance for their selfless service and commitment to community involvement.
“The Army has always trained and fought with volunteer support,” he said. “We could not exist as an Army today without you and what you do for us, for our Families and for our Soldiers.”
Volunteer nominations were submitted from units and organizations throughout Fort Drum and were separated into five categories: family readiness groups, large community groups, small community groups, child and youth groups, and youths.
Thirty-nine nominees were recognized during the ceremony, before category winners and the overall installation Volunteer of the Year were announced.
Family Readiness Group nominees:
Kelly Bessel, Karie White, Katrina Lecour, Jennifer Walters (nominated twice, for 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment Family Readiness Group and 10th Brigade Support Battalion FRG), Marina Smith-Martinez, Amy Hall, Caroline Kahn, Hannah West, Brooke Bozek, Katie O’Malley, Marie Castanon, Amanda Light, Cathy Glassman, Amber Keener, Omega Patrick, Brittany Raines, Elizabeth Dean and Rebecca Merwin.
Omega Patrick was named Family Readiness Group Volunteer of the Year. Patrick served the FRG for B Company, 277th Aviation Support Battalion for more than a year after discovering upon arrival to the company that only one other spouse was active in a company of 350 Soldiers at the time. She enrolled in every available class at Army Community Service to educate herself on the FRG program, took on the position of company treasurer and reorganized the FRG program.
Child and Youth Group nominees:
Sgt. 1st Class George Shreffler, Sgt. 1st Class James Webb, Sgt. 1st Class Calli Wells and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thomas Osborne.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thomas Osborne was named Child and Youth Group Volunteer of the Year. Osborne, assigned to the 543rd Composite Supply Company, 548th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, serves as a volunteer youth coach with Fort Drum Child and Youth Services. He was selected as one of the organization’s top coaches for the 2018-19 sports season, and he is credited with teaching children to always try their best.
Small Community Group nominees:
Amanda Resanovich, Dania Bandas, Shauna Johnson, Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Phillips and Spc. Daniella Robichaud.
Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Phillips, with U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, was named Small Community Group Volunteer of the Year. As a USO Center representative, Phillips has spent many hours assisting Soldiers at the center, conducting tours and providing information. Phillips also coordinated outside events during the summer.
Large Community Group nominees:
Caroline Booker, Sierra Coons, Carrie Shive, Marie Bauer, Susan Johnston, Rainer Neuhauser, Jill Leduc, Katie O’Malley, Melissa Rose and Kayce Masaniai.
Caroline Booker was named Large Community Group Volunteer of the Year. Booker volunteers with the Readiness Relocation Program at ACS, where she assists as an English as a Second Language instructor. She has supported several special events for the program, and she has encouraged patrons to venture beyond their comfort zone and try new things.
Micah Webb was the only nominee for this category and was named Youth Volunteer of the Year. As an active member of Cub Scouts Pack 26, he is always offering to help during den meetings and pack events. Although he is one of the younger Scouts in the pack, Micah serves as an example to others as one who embodies the Scout oath and Scout law by applying it to his everyday life.
Volunteer of the Year:
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thomas Osborne was named Volunteer of the Year. He said that his contributions as a volunteer youth coach is merely an extension of what the Army expects of its Soldiers – selfless service.
“For me, it’s doing something that I love to do,” Osborne said. “I love coaching football, basketball and baseball. To be nominated was a big thing, but then to be selected was just a huge honor.”
Osborne said that, as a young child, he put all of his focus on sports, because it served as an outlet to get him through any life challenges.
“Now I’m in a position to have an impact on the lives of children and share my love of sports,” he said. “I don’t think there can be enough of that in the youth community. Every year, we hear from parents how the kids love it, and they keep coming back.”
That’s how Osborne knows that he and all of the other volunteer coaches he works with are making a difference.
Sgt. 1st Class James Webb is known throughout Fort Drum for his work as the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade’s equal opportunity adviser, but on this night he was recognized for his service to the Scouts as a Tiger den leader and outdoor committee chairperson. Although he didn’t earn Volunteer of the Year for his category, Webb said that he couldn’t be happier that his son achieved that recognition.
“It was a complete surprise to us to be nominated, and we were so proud,” Webb said. “This wasn’t me recognizing my son; this was other leaders in the community recognizing him.”
Webb said that Micah, 7, has helped to design displays for monthly observances on post, planted trees, shoveled snow and participated in trail beautification projects.
This was the first awards ceremony that Micah had attended, and he said that he had mixed feelings about receiving the accolade.
“What it means to me to earn this award, I’m happy, but I’m also sad because other people didn’t get awards,” he said. “I hope that next year, everyone gets an award.”
He said that the reason he enjoys volunteering with the Scouts is because even when there is hard work involved, they have fun.
Woman of the Mountain
During the ceremony, Constance Weissman was named 2019 Woman of the Mountain. Weissman and her husband, the late Alfred Weissman, were longtime supporters of the USO at Fort Drum. He was named Man of the Mountain in 2012.
“She has a heart of gold, and her love for Soldiers and our Families shines in all she does for our community,” said Sonja Draught,
acting deputy to the garrison commander.
Weissman has supported many USO initiatives and events over the years, but one of her favorites is the USO Trunk or Treat, which provides a safe environments for children to enjoy Halloween.
Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, outgoing 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, and Col. Kenneth D. Harrison, Fort Drum garrison commander, honor Constance Weissman as the 2019 Woman of the Mountain for her support to the Fort Drum community. (Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
“She personally attends and volunteers her time to be a part of the joy, costumes and candy for children big and small,” Draught said. “She puts big, bright smiles on the faces of our Soldiers and Families.”
Weissman shared with the audience her reason for dedicating so much time and energy to the Fort Drum community. Several years ago, she had attended a homecoming ceremony for a unit returning from deployment. She expected it to be a happy, joyous occasion to see Soldiers back home safe and with their Families and friends. Instead, Weissman didn’t see many smiles on their faces.
“It was extraordinarily sad. Later we learned that almost everybody in those troops had lost a friend or someone they knew, even if it was just a neighbor down the street,” she said. “As we walked through post later that day, we saw Soldiers walking – not talking, not communicating – just very sad. At that moment, I made a pledge to myself that, no matter what, for the rest of my life I would try to do something to make the lives of your Soldiers a little happier, and bring a smile to their faces.”
Dani Reed, Fort Drum Army Volunteer Corps program manager, said that volunteers like Weissman have the ability to transform military installations into communities.
“Volunteer accomplishments enhance Soldier readiness and family support,” she said. “Our volunteers truly make the Fort Drum community a better place to live and work.”
Reed presented the post’s senior leaders with a ceremonial check in the amount of more than $2.4 million, which represents 94,875 volunteer hours contributed by Fort Drum community members in 2018 that were logged into the Volunteer Management Information System.
Reed said that volunteers are always needed, and if anyone in the community would like to learn more about volunteering opportunities, he or she can visit the Volunteer Management Information System at www.myarmyonesource.com.
For assistance, call the Fort Drum Army Volunteer Corps office at (315) 772-2899 or 772-0470, or visit www.facebook.com/FortDrumArmyVolunteerCorps.