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Volunteer of the Month

Culture, history, drive spouse to give time

Wife of 16th CAB Soldier has degree in anthropology

Published: 12:24PM April 17th, 2014

Erin Bolliger has volunteered nearly 800 hours at the Lewis Army Museum on Joint Base Lewis-McChord since she and her husband, Capt. Adam Bolliger of the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, arrived in September 2012.

In that time, Bolliger has helped paint and prepare exhibits that fill the halls of the nearly 100-year-old building. She also continues to assist in many projects behind the scenes such as wrapping, cataloging and organizing posters and paintings the museum receives, helping research different facts and running the museum’s gift shop a few times per month.

Her efforts are just part of why Bolliger was named the JBLM Volunteer of the Month for April 2014.

Museum specialist Synthia Santos said Bolliger is professional, dependable, patient with the museum’s patrons and extremely knowledgeable, which comes from her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Illinois State University.

“Having someone with a historic-centric degree is helpful for the museum because they’ve already been semi-trained in that field,” Santos said.

Bolliger said she has always taken particular interest in her Norwegian heritage. Studying her background led her to the local language, history and visits there.

“There’s something about learning the different history of different cultures and how different people lived and anthropology incorporates that and so much more,” Bolliger said.

She met her husband while at ISU. After graduating in 2009. Her husband was assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Lee, N.J., before finally receiving orders to come to JBLM.

She became interested in helping at the museum, which houses exhibits from units that operated out of Fort Lewis and other military operations since World War I. Bolliger said there are artifacts that locals in Iraq gave Soldiers during recent missions in the Middle East.

“It’s cool to see what they think is a token of their culture,” Bolliger said.

Bolliger also makes herself available whatever Santos or museum director Myles Grant need, especially when hours and money are short.

The most rewarding part of her position is showing her family the things she has done at the museum.

“It feels like I’ve done something that people can see,” Bolliger said. “I think having results you can see is one of the best things.”