Spouse volunteers may have reason to rejoice.
After decades of frustration from military spouse volunteers over the old Volunteer Management Information System (VMIS) site -- which was unstable, inaccessible on Apple products and rarely updated -- a new system was rolled out Jan. 11.
While a new system to log hours won't fix the problem of finding volunteers or showing them they are valued beyond their hourly contribution, it could at least help out those who were so frustrated by the old system -- including me -- that they simply stopped attempting to log their hours. It never seemed worth the effort.
Army wife Jennifer Koepl has been volunteering for more than 10 years and was able to update her account with the help of those staffing the Live Chat.
She shared on social media, "I was even able to get my original VMIS from way back to our Wiesbaden (Germany) days linked to the new portal! The new system is super easy to use too."
The new site is accessed through the Army Family Web Portal and will probably require you to create a new account and then merge it with your old account, as Koepl experienced.
I also went through the process and found it easy, except for the typical long password creation part. I chatted with a live agent, and they helped me merge my account (luckily, I could remember my old username for the Army OneSource account that used to host the VMIS data). It took just a few minutes, and my years of volunteering appeared in my service history.
Having a log of volunteer hours is beneficial both for the volunteer and for the garrison. At annual volunteer appreciation lunches, the garrison commander is normally presented with a pretend check that matches how many hours of work they got for free from military volunteers.
Volunteers have also been instructed to include those hours and descriptions on resumes and applications to help fill the gap created by the years spent following their service members around the world. But that's highly controversial among military spouses -- because when you list military volunteer positions and the hours you spend doing them, employers automatically know you ARE a military spouse. Sometimes, this helps in the job search; sometimes, it hurts.
One thing is clear with this new system: It's easier to use, which means people are more likely to use it. So if you're ready for a new volunteer opportunity, log in and see what is open in your area -- and log your hours when you do it.
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