The American Legion has supported and actively participated in the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) program since it began in 1946. Today, nearly 7,000 volunteers serve 900,000 hours annually at various VA medical centers, community-based outpatient centers, Vet Centers, nursing homes, state veterans homes and other facilities that support hospitalized veterans. In every VA medical center, Legion VAVS representatives and deputy representatives attend quarterly hospital meetings and coordinate volunteers and donation needs lists with their local posts. Anyone can volunteer. For information about individual or post participation, contact the chief of voluntary service at any VA medical center, who can arrange initial screenings and help veterans choose the program that best meets their needs. Volunteers ultimately decide where they want to serve and how they want to do it. Service can be regular or on occasion.
In the constantly evolving environment of VA health-care delivery, everyone has an array of opportunities to volunteer in their own way. In VA hospitals and polytrauma centers, volunteers can provide administrative support, escort patients, help with the Veterans History Project, or be a food court ambassador, coffee server, information desk worker or shuttle driver. Locally, they can volunteer at a Fisher House, a community-based outpatient clinic or a Vet Center.
VA makes an effort to accommodate the skills of any willing volunteers, and within the time frame they have available. This can involve direct patient contact or none at all, depending on the volunteer’s comfort level. Activities can be long-term, short-term or occasional. Posts can also participate by offering their facilities and members to the VAVS program, sponsoring youth volunteers, or partnering with local businesses and agencies to provide services to veterans.
For information concerning individual or post participation, contact the chief of voluntary service at your nearest VA medical center. He or she will arrange an initial screening and help you choose the program that best fits your time and interests. Information is also available at www.va.gov/volunteer.