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Marine Receives Volunteerism Medal For Work With Salvation Army
Second Lieutenant Deron Johnson, originally from Lowell, Indiana has already served two tours in Afghanistan before transferring to Texas A&M. Johnson; recently accepted into the flight contract to become a pilot, will now head to Virginia for six months to train as a combat officer before going to Florida for flight school.
Although Johnson is about to leave Aggieland, he will take with him lessons, memories, and experiences that he is eternally grateful to have received. Many of these lessons and experiences can be attributed to The Salvation Army. “My connection with The Salvation Army actually started off on rocky terms. I was in San Antonio back in I think 2009 and I had gotten in trouble. I got court ordered to do 12 hours of community service. I was ashamed. I was really pleased with how The Salvation Army treated me. They didn’t treat me like I was a trouble maker. They just said hey you’re welcome to come in here, we can always use the help. That was it, and I really appreciated that.”
While at Texas A&M, Johnson would find himself encountered with The Salvation Army once again. “Back in 2016, I got elected president of my fraternity. I wanted to start putting programs in place to help my fraternity’s image. I put programs in place to give us our best chance -community service.”
“Collectively, I wanted to fulfill 100 hours of community service for the month. We ended up doing over 250 hours at The Salvation Army.” It was through that time that Johnson and Commanding Officer of The Salvation Army of Bryan-College Station, Captain Paul Ryerson, ended up developing a good relationship. “A couple of months go by”, says Johnson, “and I get an email from Captain Ryerson stating they were thinking of starting a student organization here on campus. “ Johnson would soon find himself becoming the first president of the newly formed Aggie Salvation Army (ASA) at Texas A&M, the first Salvation Army Student Organization for the State of Texas. “Just them thinking so highly of me to ask me to do that, I was honored that they picked me.”
It was through all of this in which Johnson was recently presented with the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (MOVSM) by his commanding officer at Texas A&M on March 27, 2019. The MOVSM, a military award created on January 9, 1993 under Executive Order 12830 by none other than President George H. W. Bush, whose presidential library and burial site rests on the grounds of Texas A&M. The medal was designed by the Institute of Heraldry and was first issued in December 1993.
The MOVSM recognizes those members of the military who perform substantial volunteer service to the local community above and beyond the duties required as a member of the United States Armed Forces. Such volunteer service must be made in a sustained and direct nature towards the civilian community.
When asked what some of the take-aways from his experiences were working with The Salvation Army; Johnson had this to say, “The Salvation Army gave me a deep appreciation for nonprofit organizations. What you don’t see are the number of hours the volunteers are putting in, the people that work at The Salvation Army are putting in, especially during Christmas time. I just have a huge amount of respect for the people who do that work and who give their time and be able to “Do The Most Good”. It is not just a slogan, it is truly something that you have to get up and go do.”