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Celebrating Charleston VAMC volunteers

Volunteer Sam Graham helps prepare bagels for the coffee cart available for Veterans in the Charleston VAMC from lobby and staffed daily by volunteers. Photo by James Arrowood.

Last week we celebrated National Healthcare Volunteer Week. A time in April every year where we recognize the dedication and hard work of our Ralph H. Johnson VAMC Volunteers who help serve our Lowcountry Veterans.

. In fiscal year 2017, we had 627 volunteers log a total of 81,0869 hours. Our medical center led the region in total donations, collecting more than $746,500 in monetary, item and activity donations to help support the needs of our 75,000 Veteran patients along the South Carolina and Georgia coast. We also had 83 volunteer drivers spend more than 15,500 hours on the road transporting Veterans to their appointments at our medical center and community clinics.

Our volunteers vary in age, gender, income, education, race and ethnicity, but all our volunteers share one thing in common – they are driven with a patriotic spirit to use their unique talents and skills toward improving Veterans’ lives at our medical center. We are beyond grateful to our volunteers who regularly give their time to our Veterans.

“Volunteers are a vital part of the VA family and they prove, time and again, their unwavering dedication to serving Veterans, making every inch of our medical center and clinics feel like home for our Veteran patients,” said Charleston VAMC Medical Center Director & CEO Scott Isaacks. “Having them here enhances the Veteran experience and makes us better.”

Meet one of our loyal volunteers!

Name: Sam Graham

Age: 67

Occupation: Vietnam Air Force Veteran & Retired Ralph H. Johnson VA Employee

Graham started volunteering in March 2016 after retiring from Charleston VA, working as a patient transporter in our operating room. He volunteers every day and will be receiving his 1,000-hour award this year.

Why did you choose to volunteer here?

  • I am a Veteran and wanted to give back because so much has been given to me. People have helped me get to where I am today, and I have no problem giving back to others.

What is your primary role here as a volunteer?

  • A little bit of everything, but I mostly work in the Medical Intensive Care Unit waiting room. I help set up the waiting room for those family members whose Vets are having surgery. Because I worked in the OR, I’m familiar with how to get them the information they need to know what’s going on with their loved one. I support those families—the families and the employees know they can count on me. I get things done!

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering here?

  • I have two grandsons, ages 10 and 12, that volunteer here too. If you look at the expression on their face when they help a Veteran—you’ll understand what it means to volunteer here. They’ve been volunteering with me here for two years now.

If you are interested in volunteering at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, visit for more information.

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