Helping Veterans in Your Community
Ron B. Minter
National Director of Voluntary Services
Where there is the interest in helping a veteran, there is the opportunity for an unmet need to be answered.
In addition to the bread-and-butter programs at VA medical centers, which enhance and make care possible for veterans and their families, we each have a role to play in fulfilling our nation’s promises to those who served.
Sometimes that can be as simple as helping that elderly veteran next door clean out his gutters or get to the grocery store. Or, it can be free skills-based services like providing a computer class to veterans or using a special ability to improve the lives of those who’ve served.
Whether you’re doing something one-on-one with a veteran or for a DAV Chapter or Department, or partnering with your friends or coworkers to take on a big project, anyone donating their time to help veterans is a volunteer.
And if you’re volunteering, you should be proud of doing the right thing for all the right reasons.
I know that many of you volunteer out of a sense of duty and the satisfaction that comes with making a difference for some, but it’s important to take credit for those hours for many reasons.
First, you deserve it. Second, it encourages others to get involved. And it helps organizations like DAV show the public and lawmakers the commitment we share to the men and women who’ve sacrificed on behalf of our nation.
At that, taking credit and keeping track of all your volunteer hours shows one and all that there are those among us who are willing to go above and beyond to honor and respect service.
The Local Veterans Assistance Program helps us track the hard work people are doing beyond traditional volunteerism in and on the road to VA facilities. These hours are accumulated in a variety of ways. Some are generated by those who volunteer in their Units, Chapters and Departments. Others come from the open hearts and creative minds of those who are meeting unmet needs in their communities to help veterans, caregivers and family members.
The hours are recorded at the state level by DAV Departments. Since the program’s inception in 2007, more than 780,000 hours of services directly to and on behalf of veterans have been recorded. And while that is an impressive figure, I’m sure it represents just a fraction of the assistance that volunteers provided annually.
Thank you for all you are doing to enhance the quality of life for our heroes who’ve served. In honor of your service and theirs, please contact your local DAV Department and keep track of your hours. It helps us quantify your compassion and commitment. For those Departments needing assistance accessing the system and reporting volunteering activities, please contact the Voluntary Services Department at National Headquarters and we will help you get started.