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NEWS | March 27, 2023

WOCs learn to lead, give back to local community

By Staff Sgt. Marc Heaton | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

U.S. Army National Guard and Army Reserve warrant officer candidates completed their community service project at the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 806 food bank March 11, 2023, at Fort Barfoot, Virginia. The WOCs are part of Class 23-001, instructed by cadre assigned to the Fort Barfoot-based Warrant Officer Candidate School at the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute.
WOCS requires each class to identify, plan and execute a community service project prior to moving on to the final phase of WOCS. Completion of the community service project provides the candidates an opportunity to demonstrate teamwork, while practicing many of the same tasks and skills necessary to plan and execute military operations.
“Planning this project required us to utilize a lot of the same steps we would use to plan a mission or operation,” said Warrant Officer Candidate Andres Valdessarria. “This helped us learn how to run an [operations order], all the different aspects that have to be considered, then to brief the commander and the TAC officers before we execute.”
Each class of WOCS is required to work as a team to plan their project. From selecting the type of project, organizing transportation and supplies, to communicating with the receiving organization, every aspect of the project is planned, coordinated and executed by the candidates.
“The purpose of the community service requirement is so the candidates are able to give back to the community,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Al White, a Training, Advising and Counseling, or TAC, officer with the 183rd RTI. “It’s also an opportunity for them to learn and work together as a team.  They have to think about every single aspect of the project, from beginning to end.”
Prior WOCS classes have helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity, volunteered at animal shelters and at area food banks.
For class 23-001, they found an opportunity almost within walking-distance of the RTI on Fort Barfoot. The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 806 has been operating their food bank out of a building on Fort Barfoot for almost 30 years.
On average, the food bank serves around 155 families each month, in the greater Blackstone, Dinwiddie and Lunenburg area.
“We don’t turn anybody away, if you need it, come and get it,” said Herman Fitzgerald, a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran who has been volunteering with Chapter 806 for the past 27 years. 
While there, the WOCs helped pack more than 170 boxes of food for local veterans in need.
“This project has helped us learn how to give back to the community here, but then take that experience back to our local communities to give back there, too,” said Warrant Officer Candidate Leah Rogers. “It allows us to show our local communities that we are here to help.”

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