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Volunteer or donate

Find out how to donate or become a volunteer at the VA San Diego Healthcare System and learn more about how your support helps us serve Veterans.

Become a volunteer

The VA San Diego Healthcare System’s health care depends on the goodwill of donors and volunteers who want to give something back to America's heroes. Volunteers provide much-needed help throughout the health care system and make patients' experiences more enjoyable. Many different volunteer opportunities are available, and each volunteer's talents are closely matched with one of our assignments. Volunteers can choose to serve at either of the Community Based Outpatient Clinics or the main hospital facility.

By volunteering at a VA health care facility, you'll provide critical support to our nation's heroes. 

To become a volunteer, please send us an email at vhasdccdce@va.gov. Please include your first, last name, and phone number in the email and on the subject line please write “Volunteer”.  A volunteer specialist will respond to your email to let you know what volunteer opportunities are available and will assist you with the application and onboarding process.

Benefits of volunteering

In addition to supporting Veterans in your area, you'll enjoy the following benefits as a VA volunteer: 

  • A free Canteen meal during shifts of four or more hours
  • Free parking at your volunteer facility 
  • Educational opportunities, such as CPR training
  • Annual tuberculosis test
  • Free annual flu shots
  • Job skills development
  • Career exploration opportunities

Where we need help

Although we're excited to work with all volunteers, we're always in need of more Disabled American Veterans drivers and Redcoat Ambassadors (way finders), as well as golf-cart drivers.

Volunteer duties

Whatever your interests, VA has volunteer opportunities for you. Our volunteer duties fall into three categories: Recreational (focused on general support services), Clinical (focused on patient care), and Operational (focused on logistical or administrative tasks). 

Recreational

  • Library - Assist the librarian, help patients use special visual aid equipment, deliver books to patient rooms, and stock book racks.
  • Escort - Escort patients to various clinics for physical therapy or areas such as the chapel, barber shop, recreation, ceramics, and medical clinics.
  • Recreation - Assist with arts and crafts projects, play bedside games, assist on field trips, show bedside movies, and help therapists with bowling, card games, popcorn parties, and other activities.
  • Ceramics - Assist in clinics by pouring and cleaning molds and helping patients paint.
  • Food and nutrition - Help patients with completing or selecting menus and during meals (opening containers, cutting food into bite-sized portions, feeding patients).
  • Chaplain - Escort patients to the chapel for religious services and assist with office administrative tasks.
  • Day treatment and adult day care - Assist with patient escort, arts and crafts, exercise programs, and other recreational patient activities.
  • Coffee program - Prepare and serve coffee and refreshments.

Clinical

  • Nursing - Assist the nursing staff with patient care.
  • Pharmacy - Assist the pharmacist and deliver supplies to the patient care units.
  • Speech and audiology - Motivate and encourage patients with their assignments.
  • Radiology - Escort patients and file x-rays.
  • Ambassador volunteers - Greet outpatients, guests, visitors and patients' families, answer phones and transfer calls. Ambassador volunteers are stationed by the main information desk and throughout the facility’s first floor and outside main entrance.
  • Surgical waiting room - Greet families, serve coffee, meet with medical staff, and provide information to families.

Operational

  • Office assistant - Type, file, answer phones, keep records, and do data entry.
  • Disabled American Veteran (DAV) transportation - Drive patients from their homes to VA medical centers utilizing VA-donated vans (must pass physical screening by Occupational Health).
  • Medical clinics - Visit with Veteran patients and run errands.
  • Blood bank – Assist staff with clinic needs and help with drinks and snacks.
  • Golf Cart Drivers – provide transportation from the parking lots to the main entrance for patients.

Contact us

If you have questions about donating or volunteering, please contact the Center for Development & Civic Engagement (CDCE) program office (formerly Voluntary Services).

Phone: 858-642-3267

In person:

Center for Development & Civic Engagement (CDCE)
VA San Diego Healthcare System
3350 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego, CA 92161
First Floor, room 1603
Office hours: 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Many sick and disabled Veterans lack transportation to and from VA medical facilities, and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) operates a nationwide transportation network to meet this need. Qualified volunteers drive Veterans to and from VA hospitals and clinics, helping veterans get the care they deserve.

VA San Diego Healthcare System works closely with the DAV California Director of Operations to provide transportation for Veterans to and from VA San Diego and surrounding Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCS) for scheduled medical appointments.

Currently, the DAV has approximately 18 vans (serving San Diego county) that transport Veterans to and from their VA appointments.

Become a volunteer driver

To learn more about becoming a DAV driver, contact San Diego’s Center for Development & Civic Engagement (CDCE) office (formerly Voluntary Services).

Phone: 858-642-3267

The Spirit of Summer Youth Volunteer Experience invites students ages 16 to 17 to explore volunteer opportunities at VA. The program helps students learn more about VA careers, hone their job skills, meet new people, and serve our Nation's heroes. All students who complete the program earn a participation certificate.

Applications for the Summer Youth Program will be accepted from April 1st to May 1st each year. Students will be notified of acceptance by May 21st.

Note: Placement of youth volunteers is determined based on available assignments throughout the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Volunteer to make a difference

Our Nation's Veterans have given so much to preserve our freedom, and volunteering at VA is a great way to serve them with gratitude and thanks. Volunteers in the Spirit of Summer Youth Volunteer Experience help in the following ways:

  • Serving coffee
  • Directing patients within VA facilities 
  • Helping in clinics
  • Supporting recreation programs

In addition, they meet fantastic people, learn new skills, and have fun!

Perks

Program participants will have access to these perks:

  • Summer Youth Certificate for 80 hours (or more) of service
  • Complimentary VA San Diego Summer Youth Volunteer polo shirt
  • Daily lunch for four or more hours of service
  • Free parking
  • Invitation to participate in special programs throughout the summer

Benefits

The Spirit of Summer Youth Volunteer Experience offers the following benefits: 

  • Supports the VA San Diego mission of providing excellent care and service
  • Helps students adopt a service attitude
  • Reminds students of the contributions of our Servicemen and women
  • Allows students to learn more about various health care occupations
  • Creates an investment in the future of our Nation
  • Teaches communication and job-related skills

Learn more about the Youth Volunteer program

If you're a student who's interested in participating in the Youth Volunteer program (or if you know students who might be interested), contact our office via email at vhasdccdce@va.gov or call the number below.

Phone: 858-642-3267

VA health care advancements are made possible by people who volunteer to take part in critical research. 

Find out more about volunteering to participate in research

Make a donation

Generous donations from people like you help us provide enhanced services to Veterans receiving care. You can make a monetary donation by mail or drop off a donation of materials to our main campus.

If you'd like to make a monetary donation to VA San Diego, please send a check (payable to VA San Diego Healthcare System to the following address:

VA San Diego Healthcare System
Center for Development & Civic Engagement (135)
3350 La Jolla Village Drive
San Diego, CA 92161

You may choose from the following General Post Fund accounts to donate to:

GPF       1068     General Purpose

GPF       1074     Alcohol Treatment

GPF       1101     Aspire Center

GPF       1188     Volunteer Transportation Network

GPF       1189     Nursing Home Care Unit

GPF       1204     Women Veterans

GPF       1223     Center of Recovery Education

GPF       1236     Mission Valley Outpatient Clinic (MVOPC) Mental Health Clinic (MHC)

GPF       1244     Donations for Equipment

GPF       1255     Care and Share

GPF       1259     Social Work Funds

GPF       1263     Occupational Therapy

GPF       1265     Physical Therapy

GPF       1269     Cancer Patients

GPF       1280     Geropsychiatry

GPF       1281     Visual Impaired SVC Team

GPF       1293     Oceanside CBOC

GPF       1294     Stroke Support Group

GPF       1091     Off Station Outings

GPF       1159     Vietnam Veterans Out

GPF       1239     SCI Patient Recreation

GPF       1248     Summer Sport Clinic

GPF       1249     North County Vet CTR

GPF       1258     Chula Vista Vet CTR

GPF       1262     PT Recreation Supply

GPF       1278     Wheelchair Games

GPF       1291     SCI Occupational Therapy

GPF       1102     Warrior-Soulmate (Pairs)

GPF       1253     Chapel Collection Plate

GPF       1282     Clinical/Technical Education

GPF       1299     Pharmacy Education

Some donors prefer to make monetary contributions to VA San Diego Healthcare System, and others prefer to donate goods needed by Veterans. We accept donations at our main campus. Donors may park in front of the main entrance and call  858-642-3267 and one of our CDCE staff will meet them to collect the donations.

Your material donations are used to support specialty programs at VA San Diego and surrounding Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCS):

  • At the San Diego main campus: the Community Living Center, Mental Health, Cardiology, Dental, Oncology, Home and Community Based Care, Nutrition and Food Services, Physical Therapy, Chaplain Services, and more.
  • At the surrounding CBOC’s:  Podiatry, Radiology, as well as other services including  Audiology, Transition Care Management, women's health, a coffee program, and more.

To donate online, please go to the following website to view the wish list of items you may donate: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/7XGNDXQ35TY3?ref_=wl_share. Once the order is placed, the items will be shipped automatically to VA San Diego.

For more information on donating materials, or to schedule a time to drop off your donation, please contact our office at the number below.

Phone: 858-642-3267

The following materials are needed at our main facility and surrounding CBOC’s: 

Personal care

  • Roll-on deodorant (travel size)
  • Tissues
  • Dental supplies: toothbrushes, toothpaste, toothbrush holders, non-alcoholic mouthwash (small size), and denture adhesive
  • Shaving cream or gel (travel size)
  • Reading glasses
  • Body-care products: body splash, lotion, and body wash
  • 3 and 1 body wash
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Gloves
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Hand sanitizers

Refreshments

  • Chips, pretzels, snack crackers, and granola bars (single serving sizes)
  • Sugar in a can
  • Soda (two-liter bottles of regular and diet soda; caffeine free is preferred)
  • Raisins
  • Pudding cups
  • Slim Jims
  • Soup cups
  • Coffee (regular or decaf) and coffee creamers
  • Grocery gift cards

Assorted Items

  • Disposable cups, napkins, plates, forks, and spoons
  • Gift cards for outpatient programs
  • Markers for art projects
  • Chess and checkers sets
  • Puzzle books
  • Headsets for dialysis patients

Simple. Speedy. Safe. The E-Donate service is available online and allows community members who wish to give back to Veterans a quick, safe way to pledge their support. Through E-Donate, donors can select from multiple General Post Funds accounts at the La Jolla Medical Center Web portal. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs administrative costs are appropriated so donors can be 100% certain their donations will go directly to the General Post Funds account of their choice.

Donated money at our medical center goes to Veteran patient programs, homeless Veteran programs, social services, support groups and other programs that directly help Veterans. The actual donation is made through a secure site at the Department of Treasury. A minimum of $5 is required for online donations. You can donate by any electronic means commonly used on the Internet today (i.e., Bank account – ACH, credit card or debit card). You choose the medical center, choose the amount, and choose from available options on how your money will support local Veterans. If you do not see a program you would like to donate to, call the CDCE office at  858-642-3267

Make a difference. E-Donate

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