MDG volunteers dedicated to medical mission
By Tyler Hemstreet , Staff writer
/ Published August 10, 2007
MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- They may not know how to change a C-17 Globemaster III engine or execute a combat airdrop, but the volunteers who work at the 62nd Medical Group's clinic play a key role in supporting the mission each day.
The dedicated group of volunteers perform various administrative tasks day-in and dayout, giving Airmen who work in the clinic an opportunity to do exactly what they were trained to do, said Red Cross volunteer coordinator Bob Jeffrey, 62nd MedicalOperations Squadron.
The group is composed of dependents, spouses and retirees. Some registered nurses and high school students even volunteer.
"We get all kinds of people," Mr. Jeffrey said.
The 26 volunteers do everything from stocking and cleaning shelves and handing out prescriptions in the pharmacy to checking in patients and filing documents in family practice or wherever they are needed. Most volunteers work between three and four hours a week, with some volunteering as many as 70 hours in a month, Mr. Jeffrey said.
Volunteers worked more than 5,000 hours from July of 2006 to May of 2007, saving the62nd MDG nearly $93,000 in man-hours, he said.
Without the hours the volunteers work, the pharmacy and many other military pharmacies' services would be extremely curtailed or even stopped, said non-commissioned officer in charge of the pharmacy Senior Master Sgt. Mark Yurkovich, 62nd Medical Support Squadron.
"They are truly our silent heroes and without a doubt the cornerstone to our customer service success, positive reputation and ability to function at such a high level of excellence," Sergeant Yurkovich said.
All the volunteers seem to have one thing in common, Mr. Jeffrey said.
"Most people are giving back to the Air Force or military for what they got out of it," he said.
One of those volunteers is John Thurber, a 66-year-old Army and Air Force veteran who's been volunteering in the clinic's pharmacy six hours a week for the past two months. He got involved in volunteering after coming in to pick up a prescription and seeing a flyer for the program.
"I thought I would see what it was all about," Mr. Thurber said. "The Air Force was
good to me so I thought, the least I can do is give something back."
While working behind the counter at the pharmacy helping customers, Mr. Thurber said he comes across many names and faces that he used to serve with.
"That's the beauty of it," he said. "You never know who is going to walk up to the window."
The volunteering opportunity also gives those who have served a chance to interact with the troops and see how the Air Force has changed.
"I'm so impressed with how they do more with less people," Mr. Jeffrey said. "They're super, and I'm proud to be affiliated with them."
The adoration goes both ways.
"Each of them is like family," Sergeant Yurkovich said. "I wish I could do more than just say thank you to each of them for everything they do and enable us to accomplish."