Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
National Volunteer Week at Charleston VAMC
Last year, approximately 1,100 people volunteered more than 86,000 hours at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and its outlying clinics. If employees are the heart and soul of Charleston VAMC, volunteers are the lifeblood. Volunteer drivers are a great example. They’re integral in helping Veterans get to their appointments; they have logged more than 280,000 miles ensuring thousands of patients made attended their appointments when transportation was not available.
This week is National Volunteer Week. The week was established in 1974 when President Richard Nixon passed an executive order to honor and recognize the valuable contributions volunteers provide daily.
This year, Charleston VAMC has celebrated approximately 160 volunteers who are receiving awards for their service. Three award banquets honored volunteers at the Barnes Restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, on April 6; at American Legion Post 178 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on April 11; and the Redbank Club at the Naval Weapons Station in Goose Creek, South Carolina, on April 13.
“I’ve been volunteering at Charleston VA for five to six years and I love it,” said Earnest McDonald. “I’m passionate about helping Veterans and I’m good at it too!”
Every volunteer has their own reasons for volunteering. Some are Veterans who embrace the camaraderie known only by those who have donned the uniform. Others selflessly donate their time simply because they feel Veterans deserve the best possible care.
“We’re very fortunate to have a wide range of volunteers, from those who call Veterans and remind them of their upcoming appointments to the reiki, tai chi and yoga instructors,” said Voluntary Service Specialist Candy Anderson. “We have volunteers serving in 65 different assignments—including a doctor and phlebotomist.”
Last year volunteers provided a significant monetary impact of more than $930,000 in 2016 to Charleston VAMC and its outpatient clinics. While the data and measurable outcomes volunteers produce annually is impressive, the service they provide to Veterans is absolutely priceless.
“The volunteers who call Veterans and remind them of appointments sounds like a simple task,” said Charleston VAMC Chief of Community Engagement and Veteran Experience Fred Lesinski. “The caller provides a human touch, and it also makes Veterans feel accountable for making sure they attend appointments. This drives no-show rates down because Veterans will more than likely keep their word to another person—not an automated telephone call.”
Charleston VAMC Voluntary Services is always looking for additional volunteers, especially drivers. For more information on volunteering, visit Charleston VAMC’s Volunteering webpage.
Be sure to check out our Facebook page this week, where we’ll be featuring some the Charleston VAMC volunteers who make the mission to serve Veterans possible.