For someone looking to help a veteran, they need look no further than their local Veteran’s Administration Voluntary Services Offices. To find one, scan the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs website which lists all the locations. Every state has at least one, including Puerto Rico, and New York has the most.
The most obvious way to lend assistance is to donate money. The website makes this process easy and secure, offering the options to pay with debit or credit, or even direct withdrawal from a bank account. Donations can be directed to a specific facility in the selected state, and the generous donors also have the option to specifically choose which fund they what their money to be used for. The options include: Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish chaplains; homeless veterans; adult day care; hospice care; trauma and rehab; women veterans; Vietnam veterans; national wheelchair games and even national art festivals. And there are many more options to choose from. Of course if the donor would simply like the administration to allocate the funds toward whatever they deem most important, that area of the donation form may be left blank. Donors can rest assured that 100% of their donation will be used for the fund they choose.
If people are inspired to donate time and work rather than simply money there are plenty of opportunities to do so with the VA. Volunteer drivers and transport coordinators assist veterans who need transportation to medical appointments or job interviews. One volunteer driver may traverse up to 50,000 miles a year. Drives can cross state lines and even mountain ranges through all types of weather. Many of these drivers are veterans themselves, wanting to help out their fellow soldiers. Drivers must pass training and physical exams and are responsible for filling out daily logs.
One time events give eager volunteers the chance to help without a long term commitment. Welcome home ceremonies are scheduled when active military member are due home. They, along with their families, are provided with pertinent information about health care and other benefits the VA departments provide. It is an integral way to help ease the transition into life after active duty.
Students in health care fields are also encouraged to volunteer through the Student Volunteer Program. Areas of focus can include speech pathology, nursing, laboratory medicine, nutrition and food service, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and social work. This program not only helps the veterans, but gives the student volunteers real life experience and a tangible advantage on job applications.
A company-sponsored volunteer program can also be created for employers looking to unite their employees and help their company give back to the community. The VA Voluntary Service will customize a program for a company’s specific times schedule and ability.
The National Salute to Veteran Patients Program occurs annually around Valentine’s Day. VA Medical Centers around the country host celebratory events ranging from special ward visits, photo ops, recreational games and school essay contests. Some larger cities even plan musical concerts that are free for veterans and their families. These events need a full range of volunteers in all sorts of categories, whether volunteers want to be very involved or just help a little.
There is no minimum age to volunteer. Not all volunteer positions are working with ill patients, but every volunteer does need to undergo a health screening to ensure veteran safety and well being. Volunteer assignments will dictate if a background check in needed but most of the time a simple fingerprinting will suffice.
For any questions, a local VA Voluntary Service is the best resource. They appreciate all the help willing to be brought their way.