VA Capitol Health Care Network
Dedication Money Can't Buy
Volunteers are the backbone of many organizations, such as schools, non-profits, parks, churches, and hospitals. At the VA, volunteers are also essential partners in providing care to our Veterans. We are fortunate to benefit from the generous spirits, financial contributions, in-kind donations, and hundreds of thousands of hours our dedicated volunteers spend at our hospitals and clinics assisting in Veterans’ care.
In the last fiscal year, 3100 volunteers in the VISN 5 area worked over 227,900 hours—that’s the equivalent of 121 fulltime employees providing over $5.1 million in value to Veterans in VISN 5! But volunteers contribute much more than savings that we at the VA can put towards additional programs and services.
Many VA volunteers are affiliated with Veteran Service Organizations such as VFW and DAV, have served in the military, or have a relative who has served and want to give back.
Two VA volunteers who truly embody the spirit of giving back are Edna and Roscoe (Rock) Eagle. The couple has volunteered at the Washington DC VA Medical Center for over ten years and is always at the center of special events, whether it be Winterhaven, Welcome Home, Ladies’ Night, the Tree Lighting, the Community Living Center cookouts, luncheons, or other functions.
Volunteers bring with them priceless gifts of warmth, connection, and appreciation for our Veterans.
The Eagles, who are from Falls Church, have a regular “shift’’ at the medical center: Every Monday morning at 6:30 they start their delivery rounds, restocking respiratory etiquette stations throughout the medical center and Community Living Center with tissues and masks. Then at 8:00, Edna and Rock begin distributing personal care items to newly admitted patients.
“My thing is doing something a little special for the women Veterans—giving a pretty tissue packet I buy at the Dollar Store, or conditioner. It’s my little gift to make them feel special,”
Rock is a Korean War-era Veteran and the Eagles are members of the American Legion and Auxiliary. Edna says they started volunteering many years ago with another Legion couple who introduced them to the DC medical center. The Eagles give so much, but to them the payoff is greater: “When someone says, ‘Thank you, I needed that,’ it means everything,” says Edna.
Take the First Step
The selfless giving of volunteers, like the Eagles, inspires and touches VA patients, their families, and staff. Local medical centers need clerical support, greeters, patient visitors (in the Veteran’s home or at the hospital), drivers, recreation assistants, and hospice assistants, as well as people for a variety of other support roles. If you are interested in volunteering at the VA, the best place to start is your local VA medical center. The staff has information about volunteer opportunities at nearby VA community clinics, and the Voluntary Service office will help you learn the steps it takes to become an official VA volunteer.