A lot of people I know understand the importance of giving back to Veterans, but they often tell me they don’t know how to do so. I always tell them, the best thing you can give someone is time, and National Volunteer Week is a perfect reminder to put actions to words and help someone out.
During my first semester in college, I volunteered at my local VA hospital in Albany, New York. A few hours a week, I walked patients to their appointments and listened as they shared stories. I soon realized my presence was a sign of support that they deeply valued.
What I loved most about volunteering was establishing relationships with Veterans. Whether I was listening to stories about the scorching summers in Vietnam or learning how blind Vets navigate through the city streets, I was always engaged. When I told them I was in the Army Reserve, they brightened up and shared their advice. “Never volunteer for anything!” and “The most fun you’ll have in your life is in the military, don’t forget it.” Taking the time for a simple conversation and a smile made the walks through the medical center hallways a little more appealing for Vets receiving care. Once you find out how far goodwill can take someone, you may just find yourself volunteering throughout the year.