In response to today’s restrictions, VA Voluntary Service (VAVS) has developed and implemented a new social prescription program called Compassionate Contact Corps.

Veterans can benefit from this tele-support program if they are lonely, socially isolated or would simply like to talk to someone regularly. Trained volunteers provide support by making periodic phone calls or video calls.

Volunteers and Veterans are typically matched based on mutual interests. In the photo above, the soldier appears to be enjoying a chat with a volunteer.

Army Veteran James George assisted by caregiver on a video call.

Volunteers can call when it’s best for the Veteran, volunteer and caregivers’ schedules.

VAVS partnered with VA Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Caregiver Support, Home-Based Primary Care, Women’s Health, Whole Health and others to help structure the training and promote the program.

Many of the volunteers are members of Veteran service organizations and understand the unique challenges Veterans face.

Participation requires referral by a clinician 

New volunteers are welcome. Current volunteers are also welcome, especially those unable to return to their medical center or original volunteer posts. You can continue serving our Veterans virtually. All volunteers must complete Compassionate Contact Corps training.

Training includes modules on confidentiality, privacy, customer service, empathy, compassion, support and boundaries. These connections are more than a health and welfare check. However, they do not offer clinical, spiritual, or financial advice or guidance to Veterans or their caregivers.

With so much time spent isolating and quarantining, a program like Compassionate Contact Corps is a great reminder, especially during the holiday season, of the continued bond between Veterans and VA.

There are over 50 sites in some stage of implementation of the program.

If there is not a program currently in your area, you may be assigned a non-local volunteer that is eager to connect with you. All of our volunteers believe in the mission of VA and are integral in helping VA keep the nation’s promise to our heroes.

To begin receiving Compassionate Contact Corps calls, please speak with your clinician or social worker and ask for a referral. If you would like to volunteer for Compassionate Contact Corps or one of VA’s other volunteer opportunities, please click here.

Prince Taylor is deputy director of VA Voluntary Service and an Ed.D. candidate at Vanderbilt University.

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Published on Dec. 4, 2020

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