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NEWS | Oct. 14, 2014

Volunteer dedicates 35 years to USAF Hospital Langley

By Airman 1st Class Areca T. Wilson 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

For more than three decades, Carol Hale has lent her personal time to the men, women of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families who seek medical assistance at U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley on Langley Air Force Base.

In addition volunteering at the laboratory for 32 years, Hale also donated 25 years to the Thrift Shop on base, and 30 years to the American Red Cross.

"I always thought everybody should volunteer as a way to give back," said Hale. "I started here in 1981, I was working for the blood drive with Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth [Virginia] when I met everyone in the lab."

For six hours per day, three to four days a week, the Panama City, Florida native contributes to the mission by checking patients in, faxing civilian scripts when members are seen off base, and ensuring the proper lab work is ordered for each patient.

"Without volunteers, we would be paying millions of dollars to have those employees," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Madelaine Sumera, 633rd Medical Support Squadron pathology flight commander. "These are folks who have been here forever, so they are extremely tied to the local community. They know what our patients need, they're very passionate about their work and they are your continuity. They are critical."

Aside from playing her part in ensuring the mission is accomplished, Hale said she is simply happy to serve others.

"I love all the people here at Langley," she said. "People ask 'How do you keep a smile on your face?' and I ask 'Do you want to see someone with a frown?' so you keep going and that's it. I try to teach the Airmen that if someone comes up with a bad attitude, you don't know what kind of day they're having so you have to be patient and pleasant with everybody."

Hale's maternal approach and positive attitude toward her duties are also carried over into her day-to-day life.

"I know sometimes people say 'Well they're just a volunteer' but Miss Hale is way more than that," said Sumera. "She is sometimes a mentor, leader, an educator, or someone who disciplines our young Airmen when it comes to life."

To her coworkers, Hale is not known to do the bare minimum. Her efforts to go above what is asked of her  and is recognized by her contemporaries.

"She's only supposed to come in a couple days a week but there were times when she was coming in every day," said Sumera.

Lizu Hilton-Durham, 633rd MDSS quality assurance officer, shares Sumera's sentiments.

"There are times when she would stay past her half day," said Hilton-Durham. "She'll be here till the end of the day. She's a lot of help and she never asks for anything."

Though Hale's dedication to her work is apparent, it was particularly exemplified during a period when manning was at 47 percent; when she "held down the fort" at the front desk.

"She makes a big difference and does everything except draw blood, but she probably will if we let her," Hilton-Durham jokingly said. "She helped tremendously with our patient care so our manning did not affect us badly." 

Though Hale is aware of the appreciation expressed for her dedication, she remains humble and wishes only to help inspire others to give back.

"I have been blessed all my life. My husband was in the military and I was fortunate enough that I could stay at home with my kids, so I was the volunteer for everything," she said. "Hopefully I've planted a seed for all of the Airmen I help train upfront to give back and I enjoy it."

Hale said she hopes to keep lending her time for many years to come.

"Hopefully I'm going to be here for a few more years," she said. "I still have energy, so as long as I have energy and can smile about everything, I'll be here."

Sumera finished with one last comment about Hale.

"She's Mama Hale for a lot of people," said Sumera. "That's just the kind of person she is. She's very caring and it shows."