A lot of people I know understand the importance of giving back to Veterans, but they often tell me they don’t know how to do so. I always tell them, the best thing you can give someone is time, and National Volunteer Week is a perfect reminder to put actions to words and help someone out.

During my first semester in college, I volunteered at my local VA hospital in Albany, New York. A few hours a week, I walked patients to their appointments and listened as they shared stories. I soon realized my presence was a sign of support that they deeply valued.

What I loved most about volunteering was establishing relationships with Veterans. Whether I was listening to stories about the scorching summers in Vietnam or learning how blind Vets navigate through the city streets, I was always engaged. When I told them I was in the Army Reserve, they brightened up and shared their advice. “Never volunteer for anything!” and “The most fun you’ll have in your life is in the military, don’t forget it.” Taking the time for a simple conversation and a smile made the walks through the medical center hallways a little more appealing for Vets receiving care. Once you find out how far goodwill can take someone, you may just find yourself volunteering throughout the year.

Learn how you can volunteer your time or donate to a number of VA hospitals and programs.

Todd Keith/Flickr

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Published on Apr. 12, 2011

Estimated reading time is 1.2 min.

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  1. Bob Ventrella April 22, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I am a 20 year Army vet, I have a MS/Ed in continuing Adult ed. I am not alone there are members of the retiree and disbility office at Sheridan and Gt Lakes we all volunteer BUT the VA will not allow us to work in our fields! One is a Chiroprater, another a Attorney and the other two have Masters Degree’s. We were told we cannot work in our professions at the local VA. We are still volunteer’s and assist all who coe to us. It is a shame thjough that the Lake Country vetds organization as a example cannot be representeds at the local VA. We are allin the same boat though helping our veterans who have given so much, and yes we are all retired Military with disabilities ourselves. Just a point some service organizations at the region level are fantastic give them a thry and a chance to help, we do it as amatter of course especially with widows issues.

  2. Mike H April 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I’m in my Second full year of volunteering every Wednesday afternoon at the local Veteran’s Home. I substitute at the Canteen whenever needed. I also have several friends/neighbors that I go and talk with and then help out every way I can with the evening meal; from providing rides to the dining room, getting drinks, filling out menus, completing food trays and serving the food itself. It is such a blessing to me to be able to do this; unfortunately I’ve been unable for the past 5 weeks and future 4 weeks due to a fall & broken leg. I can’t drive, BUT, I do call several of my friends weekly to still check up on them. Many are just like family. As an encourager I can’t get enough of this volunteering there.

  3. Tom April 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    More than willing to support our vets. I servered in the US Army from 1968 to 1971 and it would be an honor to “be there” for the people serving now.

    Since I became disabled and my drivers ;isence was revoked, I’m suck here on the copmuter all day. My wife will work for another year or two depending on our economy. I can have our county transportation department deliver me to any hospital or nursing home in Cumberlanmd County, PA.

  4. Gerry Buck April 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Like this.
    I am a disabled vet, and when someone is willing to take the time to visit those that are in the hospital, whether a veteran or not, speaks volumes more than all the words in the world.
    My disability is not service connected, and it doesn’t necessitate my being in a hospital, I live at home and still get around on my own.
    I never thought of doing this, but am now. Thanks for the ‘kick in the pants’. LOL

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