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Iraq vet’s duty is to give - Soldier devotes rest time to helping others

Whether it involves time with their families, their personal comforts or even their lives, the duty of soldiers eventually requires sacrifice. Certain soldiers, though, go beyond that call of duty and give more, especially Army Spc. Timothy Roy of 5th Signal Command’s C Company, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion.

Roy has made it his personal endeavor to provide his time and money for those in need. During his two-week rest and recuperation leave while serving a 15-month deployment in Iraq, Roy and his parents volunteered their time preparing and serving meals at a soup kitchen and shelter near their home in New Hampshire.

He also donated $1,000 to the soup kitchen and convinced a large corporation to match his contribution.

“My parents always taught me to put others before myself,” Roy said.

He also became involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation by donating $3,000 to grant a wish that was tied to his own interests in computers. His donation was matched with a 17-year-old girl afflicted with lupus, a life-threatening, inflammatory disease. She used the money to buy computer equipment, allowing her to continue her education from home.

“What Specialist Roy did was really remarkable, and shows how much of a good guy he really is,” Army 1st Sgt. John Willis, C Company, 44th ESB, said. “Soldiers usually take deployment money and spend it on themselves. I was surprised by how much money came out of his pocket.”

Roy said he hoped to set an example. “I figured if people saw me giving back, it would encourage them to do the same,” he said. “When they see a soldier trying to give back, when they are already selflessly serving their country, they want to be a part of it as well.”

The specialist said it simply feels good to give. “To know that you can make a profound difference in someone’s life is a wonderful feeling,” said Roy. “I got a letter of thanks from the first child and her mother that I sponsored [through Make-A-Wish], and she said she was moved to tears by my kindness. There’s no feeling like that; it’s hard to put in words how that made me feel.”

This year, Roy is sponsoring another wish through the foundation, and he persuaded the Macy’s department store chain to contribute as well. Together, they are providing a small haven for a girl who needs weekly medical treatments.

“We’re giving her the room makeover of her dreams,” Roy said. “She’s always shared a bedroom, and her older sister just moved out, so were making her a place she can call her own.”

Roy found another way to give back to the community through a classmate from high school who now teaches at an elementary school in Connecticut. During his deployment, the 5th Signal specialist and students are sharing letters, which provides “an educational experience for them; they are learning about Iraq and what the soldiers are doing here to make things better,” Roy explained. “They ask the most innocent questions.”

Because the children had never met a soldier, Roy made a three-hour drive to visit them while on R&R leave from Iraq.

“I spent the day with them, answering questions and playing at recesses,” he recalled. “It was a great experience. It only takes a few minutes every couple of weeks to write a small letter to let them know how things are going. They looked at me with such awe. I was really touched to be a part of their lives.”

Roy’s first deployment was in 1999 while assigned to the 110th Military Intelligence Battalion, which went into Bosnia as part of a NATO peacekeeping force.

“There were bullet holes everywhere, and I saw a lot of burned-down houses,” Roy remembered. “The kids would come up and ask for money. I talked a lot to our translator about the country. Everyone liked us being there; it felt good. We were down there for a good cause. I’ve spoken to Bosnian forces serving with us here; they said it’s gotten a lot better.”

While deployed to Iraq, Roy, an information technology specialist, is assigned to the Technical Control Facility help desk on Camp Echo, near Diwaniyah. His role is to manage and troubleshoot Internet, phones and switches, while also providing configuration changes throughout the camp.

Also located at his installation is a provincial reconstruction team, which he said “does a great job of helping poverty in Iraq.”

“They go out, meet people personally and give back in a real way to these local communities,” he said. “The PRT at Camp Echo has a program to rebuild schools [and] the local infrastructure, while also giving school children brand new laptops.”

To the many folks he has touched, Roy could be considered a one-man PRT. For him, it’s simply a personal duty to help out the needy.

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