A reassuring pat on the shoulder, a smile that comes from the heart — thank goodness some things never change about the VA Voluntary Service (VAVS). Volunteers continue to support Veterans through many avenues of service, through donations, and by helping to enhance VA health care delivery at health care settings across the country.
You, too, can help as a volunteer, and spring into action to give back to the men and women who served in harm’s way to protect and defend us. Just imagine the possibilities of continuing the tradition of “serving those who have served” – it’s a win-win that improves the quality of life of both Veteran patients and the volunteers.
Have you visited your local VA health care facility yet? There are many VA health care settings to volunteer. To find your nearest facility, visit: http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp.
VA operates more than 1,700 points of care, including 150 medical centers, 820 community-based outpatient clinics, 300 Vet Centers, 135 community living centers, 104 domiciliary rehabilitation treatment programs, and 70 mobile Vet Centers.
Are you considering setting up visits to hospitalized Veterans? Are you interested in helping with group activities? A variety of opportunities exist at VA facilities, which you may find fun and rewarding.
Perhaps you want to provide support to VAVS Welcome Home events for returning military service members and their families, who will need important guidance about how to access health care and other benefits through VA.
What about applying your time and efforts to programs and initiatives designed to help homeless Veterans live as self-sufficiently and independently as possible? VA provides hands-on assistance directly to homeless persons. VA’s major homeless-specific programs for Veterans and their dependents constitute the largest integrated network of treatment and assistance services in the country.
Another option is to become a VA volunteer to help the National Cemetery Administration with its activities. Your assistance at these final resting places, the national cemeteries, is a way to honor our Veterans and their families.
Maybe you’re thinking about assisting with the Veterans Transportation Network? Since 1987, VA has partnered with veterans service organizations to provide transportation for Veterans. This network was established for Veterans seeking services from a VA facility. VTN guidelines permit volunteers to provide transportation to Veterans using a volunteer’s privately-owned or a government-owned vehicle, including donated vehicles, county vehicles, DAV department (state) or chapter (local) vehicles, public transportation and contracted transportation.
When you decide to serve our Veterans with your time and talents, contact your local medical center or community based outpatient clinic for more information, or visit the VA Voluntary Service website at http://www.volunteer.va.gov/. There you can complete the Volunteer Now! form, an introductory application in which you can specify your preferences and availability in the comments field.
You are also welcome to make a donation. VA medical centers and hospitals have begun accepting donations online via a major credit card or direct debit. To donate online, visit www.volunteer.va.gov/apps/VolunteerNow, select a state and medical center, and then click “Donate Online.” All of your donation will go toward supporting Veterans, and you can choose which fund your money will support.