From my time in the field as a National Service Officer to my most recent appointment as the National Director of Voluntary Services, my experiences throughout our organization have led me to know this: Volunteerism is the heartbeat of DAV.
Our organization is fortunate enough to have more than 11,000 registered volunteers within its ranks. These selfless citizens are DAV, Auxiliary and Junior Auxiliary members from across the country who generously donate their time volunteering as Hospital Service Coordinators, Transportation Network drivers and in numerous other capacities. These volunteers meet the various needs of injured and ill veterans in communities nationwide. Simply put, they are the engine that keeps this train moving, and without them our organization could not thrive.
However, as noted on page 22, the past few years have shown a downward trend in volunteerism on behalf of veterans service organizations. This phenomenon can be attributed to the fact that many volunteers offer their time and services during retirement, and as World War II-era volunteers are passing away at an increasing rate, volunteers from other eras are waiting longer in life to retire.
But that’s not to say volunteering is solely for those who are retired. Take the 2015 National Disabled Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass, Colo., for example, where 200 active certified ski instructors have volunteered their professional skills to coach more than 400 veterans in various adaptive winter sports activities for a week in April. Even though the clinic has various sponsors and coordinators to ensure its success, it’s the services of the professionals who volunteer their time and wages that make this highly therapeutic and rehabilitative event possible.
Keep in mind, though, that you don’t need a professional certification to take advantage of the many volunteer opportunities available in your local community. Whether it’s driving a van for DAV’s Transportation Network, grocery shopping, running errands or doing yard work and other home repairs for veterans, there’s a need you can fulfill. Our Local Veterans Assistance Program (LVAP)—perhaps the most underutilized program in DAV—can help you find these opportunities in your community and help ensure DAV remains a premier volunteer organization. Contact DAV Voluntary Services to learn more about LVAP.
All of America’s veterans deserve our gratitude, and so do our volunteers for sacrificing their time and efforts for the benefit of others. Our organization is strengthened immensely by the volunteer efforts put forth by our volunteers, because not only does it show there are fellow Americans who support veterans, it also shows veterans that DAV will continue its mission to empower them to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.