By Dana Forde
More than 50 years ago as she dined at a local restaurant, Annette Parker mustered up the courage to approach a man wearing a U.S. Army uniform. She sought an answer to a question she had mulled over for quite some time: “What’s it like to be in the military?”
“He told me you have to learn that once you’re in the military, you’re a citizen of the world,” Annette said.
After that chance meeting, Annette embarked on a 23-year career in the U.S. Army. Now she uses the lessons she learned in the military in her current work as a volunteer with Senior Corps RSVP, one of the largest volunteer networks in the country for people age 55 and older. As part of RSVP’s Vets Driving Vets Initiative in Brevard County, FL, Annette has volunteered more than 200 hours and driven more than 2,000 miles in the past year to help those in need. She drives veterans from all branches of the armed forces to local appointments.
“Because of illness sometimes they can’t walk to bus stops, or many of them live alone and don’t have any relatives here,” Annette said. “It also gives them the opportunity to get out and see what’s happening in the community.”
Annette served as an executive officer and commanding officer in the Army during the 1960s. This was a time period when very few women joined the military, she said. Annette credits this experience for molding her perception of community and volunteerism.
“If you have something that someone else can use and needs, you have a responsibility to give that,” she said. “And the military gave me that perspective.”
Annette is one of 26,000 veterans who serve in Senior Corps. Through grants and other resources—including the energy and efforts of citizens age 55 and over—Senior Corps helps meet the needs and challenges of America’s communities.