Summer! Time to swim and picnic ... and volunteer! - Veterans Health Administration
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Summer! Time to swim and picnic ... and volunteer!

Two women talk and smile in an exercise room

Find out how you can volunteer this summer at your local VA facility.

By Hans Petersen
Tuesday, July 7, 2015

This summer, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is inviting everyone to help us serve America’s Veterans.

We’re calling it a “Summer of Service” and it’s designed to build upon VA’s existing partnerships to increase the number of individuals and organizations serving Veterans in their communities.

Kemi Olugbakinro is participating. Here’s her interview of Veteran Samuel Morales. And read on about her Summer of Service volunteer experience at VA.

“We have made progress over the past year addressing the challenges we face in delivering care and benefits to millions of Veterans and their families,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald.

“While there is more work to do to honor our sacred commitment to Veterans, we also recognize that VA cannot do it alone. We are asking Americans everywhere to join the Summer of Service and help us give back to those who have given so much to our nation.”

At a recent open house at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in Chicago, volunteers helped staff different areas, including caregiver support. They helped answer visitors’ questions, provided information about the hospital and directed guests where to go. One local Congressional office brought their summer interns so that they could learn more about the VA system in general.

Throughout the summer, VA is working closely with Congressional partners, Veterans Service Organizations, mayors and local communities, private sector and non-profit organizations, and VA employees to identify new and innovative ways to support VA’s commitment to care for those who “have borne the battle” and their families.

As part of VA’s Summer of Service, VA facilities around the country have held open houses to spur increased local engagement and welcome members of the community interested in supporting the needs of Veterans.

On June 29, the Fargo, North Dakota VA Medical Center held a “Summer of Service” open house to provide information about the many services available there for Veterans.

VA has also established the following goals to achieve by Labor Day:

  • Increasing volunteers: committed to engaging with 100,000 volunteers to support care and benefits programs and local events.
  • Increasing community partners: committed to expanding current agreements to provide services and support reaching more than 15,000 Veterans and family.
  • Recruiting medical professionals: hiring clinicians and clinical support staff to further expand access to care and homelessness.
  • Congress: host Congressional members and staffs at VA facilities across the country.

In Dayton, Ohio, the VA medical center held an open house on July 2 as part of the Summer of Service.

VA has an outstanding volunteer program, which will be highlighted throughout the country this summer. VA will build upon the ongoing work of its more than 350,000 employees and 76,000 volunteers around the nation.

While the central focus of the campaign will be increasing volunteerism and partnerships, it will also provide individuals and communities an opportunity to support other important priorities.

Despite a hiring effort that brought more than 11,000 net new employees on board over the past year, VA still needs more health care providers, claims specialists, medical support assistants, and cemetery directors to continue to expand needed services. VA’s partners can help by getting the word out this summer.

The VA medical center in Birmingham, Ala. held a Summer of Service open house on June 30 and invited everyone to find out the many ways they could volunteer to help America’s Veterans.

To improve our Veterans’ customer service experience, VA has begun the most comprehensive reorganization in its history. The initiative, called MyVA, has been guided by ideas and recommendations from Veterans, employees, and stakeholders.

“From expanded partnerships with the private sector and non-profit organizations, to accelerating hiring, to celebrating the commitment of VA employees and volunteers — we need the help of communities everywhere to succeed,” said Secretary McDonald.

Volunteers can help serve Veterans by visiting the VA volunteer website and find out the needs of their local VA facility.