For some people, the journey of service doesn’t stop when they leave the military. They become volunteers and it opens another avenue of service to others.
The Wilmington VA Medical Center (WVAMC) relies heavily on its Center for Development & Civic Engagement (CDCE) volunteer force for a lot of day-to-day operations. “Our volunteers serve as greeters, screeners and escorts to the Veterans who come to the medical center for treatment,” said Kim Butler, Associate Director of Operations at Wilmington VA Medical Center.
Army Veteran Bob Bowers (Capt. Bob) and Marine Veteran Jack Debusi fit that mold and return to WVAMC to give back. Between Bowers and Debusi, they have given 13,491 volunteer hours to our Veterans.
Bob, has served 8 years as a volunteer here at WVAMC and says he enjoys the entire experience of working with the staff and Veterans, and had been volunteering outside of the VA but returned to his roots to help Veterans. “I enjoy coming in to work each and every day.”
Jack has served 15 years as a volunteer at WVAMC, and says he enjoys just helping people – especially Veterans as a Veteran. “The way the Vietnam Veterans were treated had a big impact on me, so if I can help out in some small way, I look forward to coming in and helping out.”
During this day and time, it can be hard to figure out how to help or where to start. Many factors delayed people from reaching out to help the way they used to but sometimes all it takes is that first step.
Jack says, “you need to get out of your own way, and care about something more than yourself, it gives you a wonderful feeling. I leave here everyday and something good happens during my 6 hours.”
A total of 114 people volunteered 16,543 hours in 2021, making our patients’ experience at WVAMC more enjoyable.
In 1946, General Omar Bradley modernized and transformed the Veterans Administration and established the VA Voluntary Service (VAVS). VAVS has grown and evolved into today’s CDCE.
CDCE has recorded more than one billion volunteer hours since the program began 75 years ago. Volunteers, many of them Veterans, have contributed to the well-being of others through VA programs.
- Coffee program: Prepare and serve refreshments.
- Escort: Bring patients to medical clinics, chapel, recreation, and programs.
- Front desk: Greet outpatients, guests, visitors, and patients' families, answer phones, and transfer calls at the information desk.
- One-on-one visitation: Be a compassionate companion on call with our No Veteran Dies Alone program or visit with our patients while they recover.
- Recreation: Help with arts and crafts projects, play bedside games, assist community outings, show bedside movies, and help therapists with activities. (Limited opportunities during COVID pandemic)
- Office assistance: Type, file, answer phones, keep records, enter data, and call patients to remind them about appointments.
- Pharmacy: Help the pharmacist and deliver supplies to the patient care units.
- Transportation: Drive patients from their homes to VA medical centers. Must have current driver’s license, car insurance, and physical exam.
To learn more about how you can become a volunteer at WVAMC or even to donate, visit: https://www.va.gov/wilmington-health-care/work-with-us/volunteer-or-donate/
Wilmington VA Medical Center provides health care services to approximately 33,000 Veterans through its main medical center and five Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Delaware and southern New Jersey. For more information, visit https://www.va.gov/wilmington-health-care/.