Veteran takes pride in volunteering

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Many people may know the badge-wearing bearded man as a Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy, but Peter Griffin is also a veteran volunteer.

Griffin is vice president of 5th Squad, a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 2016 by four former members of the Mississippi National Guard 184th Expeditionary Sustainment Command.

Though the original purpose was simply for camaraderie after military service, the goal changed to making sure other veterans had their needs met. The squad assists Mississippi veterans by filling the gaps in financial assistance from other agencies.

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A military veteran himself, Griffin was friends with one of the founders, and quickly joined the group with a goal of helping his fellow service members.

“A lot of us who have been in the military have servant’s hearts,” Griffin said. “We saw the need to bridge the gap left by other services offering help.”

The gap primarily exists because it’s a need an agency is not equipped to meet, or the waiting period is just not practical.

“There’s help available from agencies, but the process can take a week or more and that’s just not acceptable for someone who needs help immediately. It just doesn’t work,” Griffin said. “We pride ourselves on giving immediately. We assist to give a helping hand to get people back on their feet.”

Those who receive the help in turn often volunteer or make monetary donations when they can, in order to pay it forward.

Griffin and all other 5th Squad members serve others on a volunteer basis.

“We have full-time jobs and families. We also have a deep passion to help our fellow veterans,” he said. “We take care of each other overseas. Why would we not do that here at home?”

The squad is continually looking for volunteers, business sponsors and people in the community to help. They don’t need to be veterans, just willing to give a helping hand. Anyone who wants to help can contact 5th Squad through its Facebook page. Finances are the group’s greatest need since that is the biggest way they provide help. People and businesses who want to host an event and donate the proceeds to 5th Squad can do that, in addition to simply making donations.

Griffin said about six people locally volunteer year-round, and up to 50 volunteer at various events throughout the year. One hundred percent of all money donated goes to help veterans in need.

“The Veterans Administration — the federal government — refers people to us. The VA can’t help with rent, etc., to bridge that gap, and we work with them to help people,” Griffin said. “Our organization is unique. We supply all the state of Mississippi, and as far as we know there is no other organization that does what we do in any other state.”