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Hospital Happenings

News | June 28, 2023

BJACH employee sees a need and fills it for Soldiers, staff

By Jean Graves, Medical Readiness Command, West

 The civilian and military staff at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital continually seek out opportunities to improve services, educate the community, and take care of one another during their tour of duty at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Johnson, Louisiana.

Dorathy Jennings, unit administrative assistant for the U.S. Army Medical Activity and Student Detachment, has worked for BJACH since 2000 and in her current role since 2012.

Jennings coordinated a diaper drive during the month of May that culminated in the distribution of more than 110 boxes and packages of diapers and pull-ups valued at more $2,500 to Soldiers and civilian staff members at the military treatment facility on June 9, 2023.

Jennings said she saw a need after talking to a Soldier in the unit.

“A Soldier and I were having a conversation one morning and she told me she had to use cloth diapers at night because she had to save the disposable diapers for the day care center,” she said. “This Soldier told me the day care wouldn’t accept the cloth diapers and she told me she had to choose between food and diapers when budgeting for the month.”

Jennings confided that the cost of goods and services along with inflation were having a negative impact on this Soldier.

“After the Soldier left, I told the first sergeant we need to do something,” she said. “First I went to the main post chapel, but they didn’t have any diapers, so the 1st. Sgt., the training room noncommissioned officer, and I bought the Soldier some diapers.”

Jennings said she spoke to some of her friends who work at the child development centers on post, and they confirmed that Soldiers, particularly junior enlisted, are struggling to make ends meet and often don’t have enough diapers.

“I emailed Command Sgt. Maj. Devereaux and asked her if we could do a diaper drive,” she said. “Once the chain of command approved the idea, we got a legal review and had a diaper drive here at BJACH.”

Jennings said she was overwhelmed by the amount of donations received.

“In addition to diapers of all sizes, we also received packages of baby wipes, diaper waste bags, baby wash cloths, bottle cleaners, teethers and more,” she said. “While at the Dollar Tree in Leesville, a man overheard me talking about the diaper drive on the phone and he approached me and gave me a dozen children’s books.”

Jennings said the good Samaritan’s granddaughter enjoyed books and he wanted her to have them to give to the new parents at BJACH.

“I also have a friend who donated single-sized packages of Vaseline, which I never would have thought of,” she said. “Once people know of a need, they are very generous.”

Jennings said people are often too proud to ask for help.

“I used to be enlisted, I’ve been there,” she said. “I can’t save the whole world, but I can take care of my Family; and that’s the BJACH Family.”

Jennings served for 15 years as a logistics specialist and retired from active duty in 1993 as a staff sergeant.

“I hope that this inspires other units on post to do something similar,” she said. “Soldiers are in need but may not say anything, and I want to ask commanders on post to be aware and recognize the signs if their Soldiers are struggling financially.

Jennings said this isn’t just affecting Soldiers but civilian employees as well.

“I grew up in the country and I grew up poor,” she said. “As neighbors we always looked out for one another. My parents used to tell me, ‘Don’t wait for someone to ask for help; just help them.’ When I was growing up, people were there for me, and I want to be here for others.”

Jennings said she considers the Soldiers and the staff at BJACH her Family and would do anything for them.
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