Sabrina Nicholas saw the soldier holding his daughter when she stepped out into the compensation and pension clinic waiting room at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center. It was chilly, and the case manager could see the service member trying hard to keep the child warm with his arms.

VA Service

DAV volunteer and VA Voluntary Service representative Ell Wilkins (left) hands U.S. Army Soldier Mark Gauntlet a goodie bag at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center. The bags are part of the VA Voluntary Service mission to introduce transitioning Servicemembers to VA service and local VSOs.

“I heard her tell him how cold she was,” Nicholas said. “I had to do something.”

She had seen other soldiers bring their families along to the medical center, mostly because they had no other option and couldn’t find childcare. Nicholas always tries to be accommodating and this time was no different. She remembered seeing blankets in the “goodie bags” provided by VA volunteers and Veteran Service Organizations to transitioning service members who come to the clinic for C&P examinations.

“I walked up to them and offered him a bag and the blanket for his daughter,” she said. “He was so happy, and before you knew it his daughter was warm and asleep on his chest.”

Dr. Patrick Joyce sees the kind of dedication Nicholas displays toward Veterans and their families everyday at the DC VAMC, and isn’t surprised by her kind gesture. He said the entire facility prides itself in going above and beyond job descriptions to make sure their patients are taken care of.

“The way we treat these men and women, and their families, is so important,” he said. “If they have a positive experience they’ll be more likely to return and get the care they deserve.”

Nicholas agrees. She urges other VA employees like herself to do the right thing when the opportunity arises.

“As VA employees, we should always put the Veteran first,” she said. “Sometimes, the smallest gesture can change a person’s day for the better, and giving [Veterans] a good experience – even in the waiting room — is what we’re here for.”

Nicholas’ story is just one example of how VA employees serve to Veterans. This summer, VA is renewing our commitment to America’s Veterans, and we’re asking for our partners’ help in honoring that commitment.

What will you do? Pledge the gift of time to serve Veterans.

You can:

  • Visit Veterans at a local VA hospital
  • Drive Veterans to their appointments
  • Help a homeless Veteran find assistance
  • Honor Veterans by helping beautify a VA cemetery
  • Inspire Veterans by cheering them on at a VA Adaptive Sports event
  • Serve Veterans by sharing a meal or snack
  • Laugh with Veterans and share experiences

The possibilities are endless and volunteers across the country are making a difference. To sign up to volunteer, visit

VA takes its commitment to care for the nation’s Veterans and their families very seriously, and this summer, we invite all of you to join in that commitment. Community by community, state by state, our nation can work together to serve Veterans during the VA Summer of Service.

  • Look for VA at community events and engage our employees and partners.
  • Reach out to your local medical facility or National Cemetery to find out what you can do to help.
  • Check out #VASummerOfService on Vantage Point, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and join VA in caring for America’s Veterans.

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Published on Jun. 30, 2015

Estimated reading time is 3 min.

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