NMCRS Cherry Point Director, Pam Diskul-Vrable.

The challenges facing military families are similar wherever you live. Pam Diskul-Vrable realized this when she married a Marine in 2011. “Growing up in a military family is pretty much the same no matter what country you’re from,” she explained. “My dad served in the Royal Thai Army for 38 years. I’m from a long line of military families, even though it isn’t the U.S. military. I know how hard my mom worked as a single mom most of that time because he was gone so much.”

Pam connected with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society soon after becoming a Marine spouse, around the same time she graduated from East Carolina University. “I was looking for employment, and I had the educational background, but I didn’t have any work experience,” she said. “I went to the Family Member Employment Assistance Program at MCCS Cherry Point, and they referred me to the Society. I headed to the NMCRS Cherry Point office and started volunteering right away. I also decided to go to graduate school so I would have more education in addition to the work experience.”

A few months later, Pam was asked to serve as chair of volunteers at NMCRS Cherry Point, which she continued to do for a year before her family PCS’d to Pensacola, Florida. “In Pensacola I went to the NMCRS office immediately to volunteer. When I walk into any Society office, it’s like a second home. I feel like I belong to this organization. Even though I came from the other side of the world and my family is in Thailand, the people in the Society are my friends and family wherever I go.”

After volunteering at NMCRS Pensacola for two years, Pam was hired as a relief services assistant. Later, she and her husband returned to Cherry Point. “When we moved back, I worked at a local college and provided education counseling to Marines and Sailors,” she said. “I worked there, across the street from NMCRS, for two and a half years. When the director position became available, I applied for it and now I’m back where I began with the Society almost 10 years ago.”

As a new director Pam draws heavily on what she learned from Mark Harden, who served as director of NMCRS Pensacola when Pam was there. “Mark was inspirational. I learned from him how to become a good director, what to do to help out around the office, and how to make our volunteers happy because they’re the backbone of the organization.”

One perk of volunteering at NMCRS Cherry Point is the food. “I like to travel and I like to cook. Because I grew up in an international community and went to international schools and had friends from all over the world, I was exposed to different cultures and foods. We have great potluck lunch and learns for volunteers with food from all over the world. I cook Japanese, Korean, Middle Eastern, Mexican, and all kinds of cuisine.”

“Coming to work at the Society is rewarding because people want to be here,” Pam said. “I am surrounded by people who love to serve our Marines and Sailors and families. We all share the same purpose.”

Her own experience as a Marine spouse has also helped Pam connect with clients. “Being a military spouse, I have insight into the military lifestyle and how hard it is to manage the personal finances while your husband is away for most of the time. I realize how important it is to have support and guidance when you’re by yourself. The knowledge that a young spouse can get from Society is very valuable.”

Pam spends a lot of time giving briefs to various commands and making appearances at events on base. She credits the previous NMCRS Cherry Point director, Julie Spangenberger, with paving the way for the office’s success. “Julie did an amazing job improving our communication with commands and getting the word out about us to Marines and Sailors; letting them know we’re always here for them.”

By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso

 

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