Making a difference while abroad

Making a difference while abroad

by Genevieve Northup
Stripes Europe

Volunteering is a rewarding experience for individuals and organizations. When moving to a new community, and often a new country, finding volunteer work may seem like a daunting task. However, the opportunities are limitless and finding a fun, rewarding experience is just a mouse click or phone call away. 

American Red Cross 

The American Red Cross relies on the service of volunteers to carry out its humanitarian mission. The organization has locations on U.S. military installations around Europe, each offering positions within the organization and at community facilities. Those in leadership volunteer positions oversee Red Cross programs, such as blood drives, donations and Health & Safety courses. Others complete Red Cross classes for CPR certification and instructor training to pass on the skills to others in the community. At Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) medical professionals can volunteer in their career fields, and morale program volunteers take books, magazines and snacks to patients. Volunteers enrolled in the Pets and Warriors program visit recovering patients with their furry counterparts. 

If you have volunteered for the organization recently, Red Cross staff may be able to transfer records. If it has been a while, or you are new to the organization, contact your local Red Cross station to begin the registration process. 


The USO began supporting troops in 1941, and centers throughout Europe are always looking for volunteers to assist with events and hospitality services for troops and their families. Volunteers provide customer assistance to visitors at USO centers and visit troops at the LRMC Warrior Center or USO lounge at the Ramstein Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF). Volunteers are also needed to maintain other programs, such as the United Through Reading Program. 

Army Volunteer Corps 

The Army Volunteer Corps is an association that provides volunteer support for Army Community Service (ACS), Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and other Army entities, such as fitness centers, chapels, libraries, theaters, family readiness groups and clubs. To volunteer for the Army Volunteer Corps, visit My Army One Source and click on “volunteer tools.” Not sure what you want to do? Stop by your local ACS office. 

Americans Working Around the Globe 

Americans Working Around the Globe (AWAG) is a non-profit, private organization maintained by a board of governors composed of volunteers from all branches of the armed forces, as well as civilians and family members. AWAG provides training, resources and networking opportunities that bring volunteers together to brainstorm ways to assist the organizations they support. AWAG’s mission is to educate and give back to volunteers who give so much of themselves through personal enrichment and professional development. 

Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 

Following the motto “Honor the dead by helping the living,” the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsors community events that benefit veterans and their families. Community events hosted by the Ladies Auxiliary include blood drives, wreath-laying ceremonies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and evening social events for military members to relax and unwind. 

To join the Ladies Auxiliary, a family member must have been a veteran of a foreign war. For more on membership and to find local chapters, search for “VFW” on Facebook. 

Spouses’ Clubs 

Spouses’ clubs on European installations provide selfless service to the military community. These clubs typically raise money for community organizations. To find clubs in your area, visit your military installation’s official website and search for your military community on Facebook. 

Other Clubs and Organizations 

Within every community, a number of clubs and organizations engage in volunteer work. Your college fraternity, sorority or alumni association may have an active group in your area, and your unit might aid in community projects. Ask around and do a quick online search to find local opportunities. 

Volunteer to network, explore new interests and gain experience. Give your time to help your military community.

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