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Center assists soldiers with questions
LLJames Fitch call center
Army Sgt. 1st Class (ret.) James Fitch answers a phone in the Cover Me call center. - photo by Photo by Lewis Levine
“Cover me” is often heard among soldiers during combat. Now the term has an expanded meaning.
Cover Me is the name of a one-stop call center to assist members of all military branches. The center recently opened a chapter in Hinesville and is funded through the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, according to administrator Monica Benderman.
She emphasized the chapter assists more than service members seeking conscientious objector status. The status is used by service members who decline to bear arms due to moral or religious beliefs.
“We are an independent contractor program for military advocacy and run the program as we see fit,” Benderman said. “The money the CCCO provides the program is primarily used to pay for office supplies and the phone service.”
Benderman first came to public attention in 2004-05 when her now estranged husband, Kevin Benderman, was fighting court martial. He was convicted in July 2005 of failure to deploy with his unit. He claimed he became a conscientious objector because of what he had seen during an earlier deployment to Iraq.
Monica Benderman was outspoken in her support for Kevin Benderman.
The center is in a space provided by Unlimited Taxes and More in the Son Bon Plaza on Gen. Screven and the phones are manned Monday-Friday, from 4:30-8:30 p.m. Benderman said it is staffed by five full-time and three part-time advocates who are former senior noncommissioned officers. Assistance provided ranges from advice on how to handle combat stress, sexual harassment, disabilities, up to veterans programs.
“There is nothing we won’t tackle and try to get answer for the service member,” Benderman said.
While manning the phones recently, former Army Sgt. 1st Class (ret.) James Fitch, helped a Marine document a chronic knee injury that he said was service related. Fitch, who was a transportation noncommissioned officer, said he volunteered at the center to help young military members.
“I like to think we’re here to supplement the military and get a response for young soldiers, who don’t know who to turn to. We do always steer the service member back to their chain of command for final results,” he said.
Benderman said on average they receive more than 175 calls per month.
When the center is closed, a caller can leave a message. Over weekends, Benderman said she checks the answering machine every few hours. Urgent calls are normally handled once the message has been retrieved.
To reach Cover Me, call (912) 877-4150. A Spanish speaking advocate is also on hand to assist. All calls are confidential.

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