Rarely will you find two people who give so much yet ask for nothing in return. John & Jess Withrow have been instrumental in leading Team ReserveAid over the past couple years. Today they received a little recognition via some local press coverage leading up to the Ironman U.S. Championship here in NJ/NY. Great job guys!
Iraqi veteran, Arthur Johnson, is featured along with ReserveAid’s own, Polly Weidenkopf, in a story ran by WFAA TV down in Dallas. Arthur’s account is truly a ReserveAid success story. Check out the video below.
There are a few things in a man’s life that he holds most important. In the case of Spc. Terry Wooten of the 991st Transportation Company, 207th Regional Support Group, 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, defending his country and supporting freedom is second only to taking care of his family.
Spc. Terry Wooten, an experienced Army Reserve heavy military truck driver with the 991st Transportation Company returned from a Deployment to Kuwait where he drove the Army’s largest tractor trailer capable of cargo larger than five tons. This experience, along with a helping hand from the Employer Support programs available to all Soldiers, helped Spc. Wooten land a coveted training and full time employment opportunity sponsored by Central Refrigeration Trucking.
Photo by Mrs. Beverly Wooten, story by Mr. Shawn Clark, 377TH TSC Public Affairs
Being a father of two young school-aged girls, and the main provider for his young family, making decisions that will support and protect them is his daily challenge and his greatest joy. However, when Spc. Wooten returned home from a deployment to Kuwait in August, where he drove combat support missions into Iraq, the joy of returning home was soon dampened by the daily onslaught of bills.
Hanging on as long as they could with the help of family, savings and local charitable contributions, this young family soon faced the threat of utility shutoff and eviction if their financial situation didn’t improve. “I worried about providing for my family, how could I pay the bills and get my family ahead. It seemed like a tidal wave was crashing down on us and there was nothing I could do about it – or so I thought.” Spc. Wooten said.
During final formation for last month’s battle drill assembly, 991st TC First Sergeant Alamando Parker, told the formation about a few programs that were available for Soldiers and their families when times turned hard. Spc. Wooten took down a few of the numbers and later talked with his wife Beverly about their situation. They didn’t know they had those options available to them. They knew that there were programs for some things, but didn’t think they applied to their situation.
Later that night as a family, the Wooten’s decided to call one of the numbers given to them for Fort Family. From there they were directed to ReserveAid, a program that offers help to service members in need.
They contacted ReserveAid and right away started working on the most immediate issues. First, they assessed the Wooten Families situation and requested copies of the most pressing bills, those that couldn’t be left unpaid. They sent the mortgage, utilities, water and gas bills and within three days, those bills were paid.
“Now if this were the whole story it would be enough. I felt such an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude for the kind and generous people that took our emergency and made it their own. But that is only the beginning. I called them back and asked if they knew of a way to get a job or more training. I felt the old proverb, feed a man for a day or teach him to fish, seemed to apply to my situation perfectly.”
From there, Spc. Wooten doesn’t know how his name or situation spread, but it did. It landed on the desk of a few important leaders.
377th Theater Sustainment Command Command Sergeant Major James Lambert, and Lieutenant Colonel Maria Quan of the United States Army Reserve Command Public Affairs were two of the people at the end of those phone numbers and emails. These senior leaders started burning down the phone lines capitalizing on their vast network of contacts. They are the people who really got the ball rolling.
“This young Soldier hasn’t been able to get a job since he returned from theater in August. I advised him about the Employer Partnership, Operation Home Front as well as some other resources. Supporting a demobilized and unemployed Soldier in financial distress is of great concern to us all.”, said LTC Quan. Spc. Wooten was making his own calls and figuring out the best way forward when he came across a potential employment opportunity with Central Refrigerated Trucking.
Kayla, Beverly and Natalie Wooten are all smiles during a recent family outing with their own special hero; husband and father, Spc. Terry Wooten. Spc. Wooten, an experienced Army Reserve heavy military truck driver with the 991st Transportation Company worked with the Employer Support Program to land a coveted paid training opportunity sponsored by Central Refrigeration Trucking. This training is the first step in the process that will allow Spc. Wooten the ability to provide for those who matter most …his family.
Photo by Spc. Terry Wooten, story by Mr. Shawn Clark, 377TH TSC Public Affairs
“As I was about to make the call to this company, Mr. Johnny Dwiggins from the Armed Forces Employer Partnership called me. He said he had just spoken with LTC Quan and wanted to help me out. He got me enrolled in their paid training program with a possible employment opportunity if I can successfully complete the training.”
“As it works out, I’m set to start training on February 7th. I know beyond a doubt that it was my connection to the Army Reserve and its influence that got me into this program so quickly.” CSM Lambert, happy to stay behind the scenes, hopes all Soldiers know they have many options available to them. “Can you think of anything better than taking care of one of our Soldiers? This is the kind of story that makes one feel good about being part of the Army Family!”, he said.
Secretly, Spc. Wooten feels like a hero to those who matter the most, his wife and kids. He says his kids don’t need to know how close they were to something really terrible. They can continue to think about things that are important to them right now like their grades, hairstyles and little girl things. He feels confident he can provide for all the rest.
“I know there are other Soldiers out there who are going through the same thing I did. They need to look into these programs. They are built-in to support all Soldiers. The people who responded to my e-mails and phone calls were the greatest. They walked me through the process; they cared for me and my family and they followed up to the end,” he said.
Spc. Wooten holds his head high now and has a hard time not smiling.
“Life is good. Now, on to training and a better life!”