• Spouse says her volunteerism is a calling

  • This is the fourth in a series of articles on volunteers who support the post.

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  • Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
    Volunteers are a vital part of the Fort Leavenworth community, giving tens of thousands of hours of their time and saving the post millions of dollars. This is the fourth in a series of articles on volunteers who support the post.
    Heather Anne Ward said she believes the quality of a community depends on the willingness of members to give their time, energy and expertise as volunteers. Her volunteerism at Fort Leavenworth includes working with the Army Community Service Field Grade Spouse Seminar, Protestant Women of the Chapel and the Friends of the Frontier Army Museum.
    Ward said she grew up in Indianapolis the oldest of five children and began volunteering as a teenager at her church. She played violin with the church orchestra until age 26, when she married and moved to Oklahoma with her husband.
    “I also volunteered as a youth leader with my youth group and then with Young Life, an outreach ministry for teens, for about four years,” Ward said. “While serving as a princess with the Indianapolis 500 Festival, I volunteered and represented the city with the festival program.”
    Ward said after becoming a military spouse, she began volunteering right away in her husband’s unit, spouses clubs, in the chapel, community Bible study, and with the children’s school. She has found volunteer opportunities to engage at each of their five duty stations so far.
    “I graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in biology pre-med, but I returned to school and earned my teaching certificate in secondary education from Indiana University,” Ward said. “I taught high school before marrying my husband, whom I met while serving in Bamberg, Germany, with Military Community Youth Ministry Club Beyond.”
    Now married 15 years, her husband, Lt. Col. David Ward, is active-duty Army and worked in Mission Command Training Program with Operations Group Charlie for more than two years. They have three children who attend MacArthur Elementary School.
    “We have been stationed at Fort Leavenworth since December 2013. My husband is now working in South Korea with 8th U.S. Army Headquarters,” Ward said. “He will return to Fort Leavenworth this fall.”
    Ward said the effect of volunteerism in the community is significant. She said without volunteers, many of the excellent programs and services offered to military members and spouses would cease to exist.
    “I think it is amazing that many of the spouses who volunteer are professionals investing their skills, experience and talents to enrich the lives of those within their military community,” Ward said. “I have been a volunteer instructor and panel member for the Field Grade Spouse Seminar for the past two years. Specifically, I facilitate the ‘caring and crisis’ section of the seminar class, and I stand on the panel with two other spouses to represent someone whose soldier has completed their ‘key and developmental time’ in the military.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Ward said the “caring and crisis” section focuses on training the spouses how to show care and compassion to those in their unit when there is a crisis of any level. Crises range from death or serious injury, life’s unexpected circumstances, to difficulty in navigating the challenges of military life.
    “On the panel, I help answer questions from the participants and speak from my experiences of having been a supportive leader to the command team while my husband was serving as the S3 and (executive officer) of his unit at our last duty station,” Ward said.
    She is also a volunteer on the Protestant Women of the Chapel board of directors serving as the prayer coordinator. Her duties include meeting with the prayer team every Tuesday morning before the regular Bible study begins.
    “We pray for the ministry of PWOC, the PWOC board members, individual requests and the Fort Leavenworth community,” Ward said. “I also lead the body in prayer during our opening session each Tuesday, and about once a month, I lead a devotion and corporate prayer time with all of the ladies in our body during the opening session on Tuesdays.”
    Ward has also played violin with the choir for some special music during the 8:30 a.m. service on Sunday mornings. She said board members assist one another as needed and they established a prayer chain via e-mail.
    “I also have the opportunity to volunteer with other chapel ministries as a substitute Sunday school teacher for the Protestant congregation,” Ward said. “And working as a volunteer leader with the middle school program, which meets at the (Harrold Youth Center), is very rewarding on many levels.”
    Ward said she and her husband volunteer with the Friends of the Frontier Museum, portraying living history character roles for the “Night at the Museum” event last April, the historic homes tours last May, and the haunted tours event in October.
    “My husband and I dressed up as a couple from 1859 who were Lincoln supporters. We stood by the Lincoln carriage at the museum, and we came to life when each group visited our stop,” Ward said. “For the tour of homes, my husband and I dressed up as an officer and wife from the 1940s, and we were the welcoming docents for one of the historic homes.”
    Ward said a mentor exposed her to the phrase “share your husband’s calling.” She said working with some seasoned military families served to mentor her, and their examples demonstrated how to navigate the military life successfully.
    “When Dave proposed to me, I knew for certain that I wanted to join him and journey through this military life together,” Ward said. “I have answered the call to serve in various capacities at all of our duty locations, depending on the season of life in which I found our family and what I believed God was calling me to do at that particular time and place.”
    Page 3 of 3 - Ward said it is a personal joy and delight for her to use the gifts, talents and experience she believes God has given her to invest in the military community.
    “I feel very passionate about encouraging other military spouses in embracing their military life — to have an all-in mindset, to share their service member’s calling,” Ward said. “Doing so will make this season of life in the military so rich, rewarding and, most importantly, it will show tangible support to their service member.”
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