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Col. Peter D. Buck congratulates Pam Mentzer during a celebration of her 20-year anniversary of employment with the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Sept. 1. Her history of volunteer work with NMCRS goes back to 1980. Mentzer is the director of NMCRS aboard the air station. Buck is the commanding officer of MCAS Beaufort.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jonah Lovy

Exceptional worker celebrates 20 years

15 Sep 2015 | Lance Cpl. Jonah Lovy Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

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.

            The 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.

            Mentzer’s 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.

            After 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. 

            “Back then, they didn’t have direct deposit,” said Mentzer. “They had dependent allotments, and ours hadn’t arrived yet.”

            This 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.

            The 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.

            “I 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.”

            Mentzer’s first experience with casework occurred during a very trying time. She was in Charleston, S.C. when Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989.

            “We 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.”

            Over 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.

            “Pam 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.”

            Mentzer’s work for service members and their families is testament to the support system in place for our military families.

            “I 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.”