It is always a privilege to interview military personnel and veterans who are making an impact in our local community. This month proved to double that honor. In this Hawaii VA Loans Ambassador profile, we share the hard work and commitment of two soldiers who are not only excelling in their Army careers here at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, but are also married to each other, and raising three boys – all while duty calls. This Army couple exemplifies what it means to serve, and make a difference here at home, too.
Meet the Outlaws, our May 2014 Hawaii VA Loans Ambassadors.
As the President and Vice President of Service Members Against Drunk Driving (SADD), SSG Derius Outlaw, 65th Engineer Battalion, and SSG Renee Outlaw, 130th Engineer Brigade, are determined to spread the message about making the right choice when it comes to getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. On call from 11pm – 4am on Fridays, Saturdays, and holiday weekends, a SADD volunteer will pick up service members and spouses of any branch around the island who need assistance in getting home safely as a result of too much drinking.
The Outlaws assert that the all-volunteer service is not a program to encourage drinking. Instead, it is a positive option for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who find themselves in situations where their simple plans turn complicated. One of the key elements of utilizing the SADD program is that there are no repercussions for military members with their chain of command. Therefore, individuals can readily make the right call, and the right decision.
Let’s hear more from Derius and Renee about their involvement with the SADD program, their military life, and how being a couple in today’s Army works for their family.
How did the Service Members Against Drunk Driving program begin?
Renee: It started within our battalion in 2010. It was actually called Soldiers Against Drunk Driving, and it just kept going throughout the 130th Engineer Brigade. When it got passed along to us last May, we realized that our volunteers weren’t just picking up Soldiers; we were helping Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and their dependents. That’s when we decided to change it to Service Members Against Drunk Driving. That way we can get more volunteers around the island.
What was the catalyst for you two deciding to commit time to this cause?
Renee: Being part of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, we were looked at as being perfect candidates to run the program. It just so happens that the last three sets of leaders who ran SADD were married couples as well, so they were like “Hey, you guys should take it.”
What should service members know about using the program?
Renee: It’s a Plan B. We’re not encouraging anybody to go out and drink without a plan. It’s if you need help, and your designated driver just so happens to start drinking, and Plan A and B fail. We now have our phone number on our Chaplain’s cards, so among all the most important phone numbers you need within your unit, SADD is part of that card, and we give that card to every Soldier at in-process.
Derius: It’s a plan for right before you get picked up by the police.
Explain how service members can utilize your program should they need assistance.
Renee: They call one of the two phone numbers available right now. We’re still working on expanding to get more phones. Right now, we’re having SADD volunteers go to events to be on standby so that people can get back to the installation or back to their homes safely if need be. That’s a second way that we are starting to implement the program now.
What are some future goals you have for the program?
Derius: As long as it’s expanding and it’s being utilized service-member-wide, that’s our main objective.
Renee: Right now we want to let other units know that SADD is there for them, too. And that people can volunteer from all over, just give me a call and say you’d like to help out.
The Outlaws & Military Life
How were you both drawn to a career of military service?
Renee: It was a choice we made together. We met in the Marines, then we got out and started our family and realized we needed something more family oriented, so we joined the Army.
Are the Marines mad at you?
Renee (laughs): We got a little bit of heat from that, but it was a choice we made for our family. There are so many family programs in the Army that we felt that we had to take advantage of.
What was the reason for first joining the Marines?
Renee: I just wanted to be a Marine. That was it. I told my mom anything and everything I could to let me join. I was only 17 when I signed the paperwork.
How about you, Derius?
Derius: Yeah, same thing, just to be a Marine was the main reason I joined at 18.
Renee: That’s how we met. We deployed in the Marines together. I think we were in no more than a couple of months and we went to Iraq with the same unit.
You said you’ve been married nine years now?
Derius: Yep, it will be nine soon.
You guys look too young to be married nine years already.
Derius: We both just turned 30!
Renee (laughs): Don’t tell people that!
That’s going to be a direct quote.
Derius: I don’t mind!
Can you explain more about the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club that you’re part of?
Derius: It’s a club that’s reserved for the most prestigious NCOs, E-4 and above, within the Army. You have to be recommended by someone who’s Audie Murphy from your unit or your First Sergeant, and you have to be a top performer within your unit.
What are the challenges of being a married couple in the military?
Derius: Having to balance the boys and work can be challenging, but it isn’t all that difficult. We’ve been in 12 years now, so it doesn’t seem very difficult being dual military because it’s been so long already. It just seems like the norm. I don’t know what difficult would be.
How important is support from friends and family?
Renee: That’s the basis of it. As long as we have that support, you know both of us just returned from deployment, and we had our family support and my mom came to help out. His mom has come to the island to help out when our training or anything conflicts to where neither of us can be home. That’s the key – to have our family support.
Derius: The units that I’ve been with have been willing to work with me, too.
Renee: When we see the leadership that takes care of us, and in turn, they see that we’re trying hard, we’re pushing forward, and doing great things for the Army, they help us out.
How have you enjoyed being stationed in Hawaii?
Derius: You can’t beat it.
Renee: Living in Hawaii and being able to take advantage of what people save up their whole lives to come out here for – and the military is paying us to live here! We live in Ko’olina, so we take advantage of the lagoons, the luaus, and the beaches, anything we can. We have our last couple of months here, so we’re trying.
What are some things you are going to miss?
Derius and Renee: The weather.
Renee: We’re moving to Missouri next, so we know what we’re in for – cold weather and snow!
Mahalo to our May Ambassadors, SSG Derius Outlaw and SSG Renee Outlaw, for giving us insight into the workings of the Service Member Against Drunk Driving program and for sharing details of their military life with us! They have certainly made a wonderful impact on the Hawaii community with their many contributions as Soldiers and as a family unit. Their dedication and willingness to help others truly embodies the Hawaii VA Loans spirit. Aloha and best of luck to them on their next assignment in Missouri! Hawaii will miss you.
Via Hawaii Army Weekly:
Designated drivers with the Service Members Against Drunk Driving (SADD) program are available 11 p.m.-4 a.m., Friday-Saturday and holiday weekends, to give service members and spouses a free, confidential ride back to their residence or installation should they find themselves without a designated driver after a night of too much drinking.
Call (808) 377-0549 or (808) 224-1907
To volunteer to become a SADD driver, call SSG Renee Outlaw at (818) 359-3825