MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Some people are no
stranger to lending a helping hand from time to time. Few people give their
spare time to help others. Fewer people devote a lifetime to helping others.
September 1 marked
the 20-year anniversary of Pam Mentzer’s employment with the Navy-Marine Corps
Relief Society. Mentzer is currently the director of NMCRS aboard Marine Corps
Air Station Beaufort. Her history of volunteer work with them goes back to 1980
but she was officially hired in 1995.
society is a non-profit volunteer service organization that provides financial,
educational, and other need based assistance to active duty and retired service
members and their families, according to the NMCRS website.
devotion to helping military families comes from her own experiences as a
sailor and a spouse. She joined the Navy immediately after high school and
became a Corpsman to help people and learn about medicine. Three years later,
she married her husband who was also a Corpsman.
Mentzer left the Navy, her husband went to sea in 1978 leaving her alone with
their infant son and while trying to make ends meet.
then, they didn’t have direct deposit,” said Mentzer. “They had dependent
allotments, and ours hadn’t arrived yet.”
is how she was first introduced to NMCRS. A neighbor suggested that she go to
them for help. When Mentzer met with the society, they gave her twenty dollars
for gas and two bags of groceries right away. Their support continued until
Mentzer’s husband returned home.
help she received in her time of need gave Mentzer the inspiration to volunteer
and give back. She began working with NMCRS in 1980 when her family was
stationed at Great Lakes.
felt like I needed to volunteer when I had the opportunity,” said Mentzer.
“Once I started, I loved it. I didn’t think I was the type of person who would
be interested in casework. I just didn’t want to be telling people what to do.
But I do enjoy it.”
first experience with casework occurred during a very trying time. She was in
Charleston, S.C. when Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989.
were told that was the first big disaster that NMCRS provided so much
assistance for,” Mentzer said. “We were working ten hour days, handing out
checks. People needed money for batteries, candles, water, and everything else.”
the course of her service at NMCRS, Mentzer also served in Marine Corps Base
Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. In
1995 she was officially hired as an office assistant at the Parris Island
branch. She moved to the MCAS Beaufort office in 2002 when the director
position became available.
is a great example of volunteerism,” said Col. Peter D. Buck, the commanding
officer of MCAS Beaufort. “We thank her for over 6,670 volunteer hours of
casework and for her dedicated service to our Marines, sailors and families.”
work for service members and their families is testament to the support system
in place for our military families.
just like what I do,” said Mentzer. “I always think if there’s something I can
do every day to help someone else the way I was helped, I’ll be happy.”