WASHINGTON – On Thursday Sept. 14th, 2023, the Secretary of the VA awarded the VA’s Customer Service Volunteer of the Year award to Barbara Brown, Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center’s Volunteer Transportation Network Hospital Services Coordinator (HSC).
As the Volunteer Transportation Service Coordinator, Brown is responsible for ensuring the safe and timely transportation of Veterans to the VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, W. Va. by a network of volunteer drivers.
But it was her volunteer time and spirit that earned her national accolades at the 2023 VA Customer Experience Symposium.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the volunteer driver system was in danger of being closed due to safety precautions and social distancing requirements. But through her initiative, Brown developed a variety of safeguards that allowed her volunteer drivers to continue aiding Veterans. Her creation of COVID-19 “go bags,” containing all necessary safety items was adopted by Veteran Integrated Service Network 5 as a best practice for all volunteer-drivers in the geographical region. She obtained and distributed plexiglass dividers to the drivers for their vehicles. She also educated the drivers of sanitation procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to themselves and the Veterans they served. Brown’s efforts ensured the volunteer drivers remained able to continue to transport Veterans to Clarksburg VA Medical Center throughout the pandemic.
“Barbara Brown is one of the most hardworking, dedicated, passionate, and altruistic individuals I've ever encountered - let alone worked alongside within the VAMC,” said Michael White, Chief of the Louis A. Johnson VAMC Center for Development and Civic Engagement (CDCE). “In her role as Hospital Service Coordinator, during the most difficult time in recent history, Barbara has been able to not only maintain, but grow the Volunteer Transportation Network program locally.”
As a Volunteer HSC, Barbara is one of the first in the building and is often one of the last to leave - often requiring encouragement to do so. “Time to pack up, Barb” often garners a reply with, “Just two more minutes” so she can make that extra phone call to remind a Veteran of their ride the following day.
Brown’s tremendous efforts were recognized by the VA, so on Sept. 14th she was presented the VA Volunteer of the Year award by Dr. Sabrina Clark, VA’s CDCE Director, and Dr. Steven Lieberman, Deputy Under Secretary of Health. Her accolades were read by Prince Taylor, Deputy CDCE Director, to a crowd that included friends, family, and coworkers.
Brown’s efforts and accolades truly go above and beyond, and her perseverance has ensured the safety and health of the Veterans she selflessly serves every day.