Soldier Uses Uniform to Connect With School Kids


FORT LEE, Va. -- Pfc. Kristal Doyle aspires to be a lawyer because, in her words, "I want to help people."

With one year of military service under her belt, Doyle knows that her dream is much toil and many years away. In the meantime, she is helping people in another way -- being a volunteer.

The 19-year-old Soldier is the volunteer coordinator for her unit, the 108th Quartermaster Company, 530th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 82nd Sust. Brigade, and has taken the lead to support its volunteer mission, said Company Commander Capt. Milena Williams.

"We asked if there was anyone who wanted to work with the school liaison at Army Community Service, and she was the only one to raise her hand," she said. "Later on, we asked her why she wanted to do it, and she said she wanted to do it for the kids so that they know this is the Army and we get involved. That would in turn encourage other Soldiers to volunteer."

As the volunteer coordinator, Doyle is responsible for communicating with the school liaison and school officials to fulfill and coordinate volunteer missions for the unit. She said she took the job because she cares about children, but there is another aspect of the position she likes as well.

"I think it makes a positive impact on the unit when people see that we're out helping the community," she said.

Doyle's role as the volunteer coordinator isn't limited to making phone calls. She travels with her fellow Soldiers to schools most of the time and participates as they do. On a recent visit to Ecoff Elementary School in Chester, several of the Soldiers had to pull out of a mission due to other obligations, leaving her as the lone volunteer. That made her the center of attention among the children.

"It feels good that the kids are that interested in me," she said, beaming and walking the aisles of the cafeteria in her Army combat uniform amid the loud chatter of roughly 60 first graders.

During her visit, Doyle took on the role of cafeteria monitor, helping to keep the little ones under control as they went through the serving line, seated themselves and ate their lunch. In the course of those actions, they studied her, offered typical offhand comments and asked her about herself, her uniform and a number of other things. She thoughtfully took it all in stride, helping to open beverages, assisting with trays and answering a rapid-fire line of questions. She seemed to imply that small things can have a big impact.

"It makes me feel good that I could be making a difference in somebody's life," said the Martinsville native, smiling. "Just being there with them, talking to them, laughing with them -- something as simple as that."

With that comment, Doyle seems to understand the subtleties of presence, especially when the person present is wearing a uniform.

"I have positive thoughts (about being a role model) because it could possibly change a child's life," she said. "Children who have a bad home life can be changed by what they see because a lot of the kids make comments like 'Oh, when I grow up, I'm going to go to the Army.' Before that, they might not have thought anything like that."

Doyle also understands leadership, said Williams.

"She is one of my best Soldiers," she said. "She wears Pfc. rank, but she really should be an E-5 because whenever I need something, she's there or if she sees something is missing or there's a problem, she the first one to go and fix it -- before even letting me know there was a problem. She constantly looks to better improve the organization and seeks to take on challenges to improve herself."

Doyle will soon take on challenges elsewhere. She is scheduled to relocate with husband Pfc. Ramel Doyle to Fort Campbell, Ky., next month

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