How One Military Spouse Turned USO Volunteer Gives Back to Her Community in Korea

By David Yoo

Life in a military family can be difficult. Many active-duty military families can feel unsettled, due to the fact that they move – or, “PCS” – approximately every 2-3 years throughout their service member’s career.

These military moves always include leaving family or friends behind, and often having to adjust to new languages, cultures and even food when moving overseas. These huge changes in lifestyle can make the thousands of miles from the states and all their loved ones feel even farther away.

As is the case with many military spouses, Ashley Mathews-Jarvis had to give up many things in her life when her husband Ian received orders to South Korea – including her career as a respiratory therapist.

This had been a rewarding and challenging 11-year career – especially in recent years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While still stateside, Mathews-Jarvis worked in several medical centers, including the Christiana Care Health System-Newark Intensive Care Unit in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

When the pandemic started, their ICU became a Covid ICU, receiving the most critical patients, and Mathews-Jarvis was suddenly on the front lines. Like other hospitals, visitors were not allowed during this time, which meant that Mathews-Jarvis not only cared for her patients medically, but also was the only one in the room with them as they passed, holding their hands.

In the midst of the pandemic, Mathews-Jarvis and her family moved to Camp Humphreys, Korea, on Thanksgiving week of 2020 and almost immediately upon arrival, she tried to find a job as a respiratory therapist.

However, such opportunities overseas are limited and Mathews-Jarvis, like many other military spouses, struggled to find work. So, she channeled that dedication to helping others and instead began volunteering at USO Humphreys on the base in May 2021.

Photo credit U.S. Air Force/Crimson Sky

After only a few months of volunteering with the USO, Ashley Mathews-Jarvis (pictured far left) helped lead the charge with USO Humphreys annual Children’s Holiday Party in 2021, as pictured here.

Mathews-Jarvis has dedicated an impressive 250 volunteer hours since she began volunteering with the USO in May 2021. She is a mission-focused team player and has proven herself an invaluable part of our volunteer team in delivering programs and services benefitting the Camp Humphreys community.

For example, Mathews-Jarvis led ten volunteers to prepare every detail for USO Humphreys Children’s Holiday Party, one of the center’s biggest programs in 2021 – 322 service members and military family members were in attendance. She is an excellent lead volunteer, and she has motivated other volunteers while giving them a better understanding of military family needs during the holiday season. The event was incredibly successful.

USO Humphreys Center Director George Gray is grateful Mathews-Jarvis is part of the USO Humphreys team.

“Ashley embodies the spirit of the USO and its’ volunteers. She truly gives her time selflessly in support of making the lives of service members and families better during their tour in South Korea.”

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