No matter the way–driving a car or riding a bicycle–Joshua Johnson commits to serving Veterans.

Johnson is a familiar face at the Orlando VA Medical Center. With over 700 hours dedicated to volunteering as a Red Coat Ambassador, he has befriended Veterans and gained chosen family.

Freda Johnson, Medical Specialty Social Worker and proud mother, says, “It takes a village to raise a child. I am so grateful for my VA being a part of my village. Orlando VA helped Joshua to find his passion. He has blossomed.”

To know Veterans by a first name basis is not rare for Joshua. His devoted time not only helps Veterans, but himself as well.

Joshua Johnson will soon be leaving VA for Louisiana State, but the Parke scholarship award recipient wants to study physical therapy and then return to VA.

The hundreds of hours spent at the Orlando VA is the deciding factor of what he wants to pursue for the rest of his life. After seeing the physical therapy team work cohesively, whether it was making a temporary cast or collaborating on how to best care for a patient, they showed strength. Johnson plans to be a part of the difference this team makes in Veterans lives.

Doing what he knows best, Johnson never fathomed a reward. Little did he know, all of his energy and loyalty to Veterans would grant him one.

The James H. Parke Memorial Scholarship provides the opportunity for students to make their dreams a reality. As a recipient of the award, Johnson can now seal the deal on becoming a physical therapist.

“This scholarship gave me reassurance that I can pursue my dreams and the opportunity to pursue my dreams as I go on to college,” Johnson said.

“Joshua deserves the scholarship,”said Louis A. Holland, Lead Patient Relation Assistant. “Over the past several years, Joshua has grown from a student volunteer to a young man who leads from the front and demonstrates integrity, compassion and understanding for the Veteran’s needs. From day one the concerns of our Nations Hero’s was Joshua’s main mission.”

With a team who has seen Johnson grow over the course of his service, they are honored to benefit from his time.

“I have seen him grow from reserved and shy to an extrovert,” said Kenneth S. Carr, Patient Relations Assistant. “Now, I see him as a terrific leader. He is respected and liked among staff and patients. He will truly be missed. He is irreplaceable.”

For Johnson, it is not about the number of hours, it is about the purpose behind volunteering.

“Everything you all have done, even the smallest, helped to build my character,” Johnson said. “Orlando VA has helped build me into the man I am today.”

Johnson has been the listening ear for Veterans, the hand to hold on the way to an appointment, and the smile that drives others to keep pushing forward.

When he leaves for Louisiana State University, he won’t forget who helped him get there.

Andrea Madrazo is a public affairs specialist trainee at the Orlando VA

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Published on Jul. 9, 2019

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