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January / February 2009

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BY JUDITH McCOMBS, NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE


As the VA health care delivery system has changed, so too has the diversity of available VAVS volunteer assignments. There are, at last count, 117 VAVS official assignments covering every service, subdivision, and administrative section. Each facility also creates additional unique assignments. Not all assignments have to be on site, but all must have VA supervision to conform with statutory requirements. At one facility, a VVA volunteer has six assignments, not out of boredom but to tailor the facility’s needs with the volunteer’s availability. This flexibility is key to a successful program.

In the most recent fiscal year, VVA’s volunteers worked at 125 facilities. However, we had certified representation at fewer than half of those facilities; and not all of them had a full complement of representation. An organization is authorized to have one rep and three deputy reps at each facility with volunteer activity, and they must attend quarterly VAVS committee meetings.

Some of VVA’s reps and deputy reps are long-timers, while others joined the program recently. What these reps and deps have in common is commitment, dedication, and leadership.

At Battle Creek, for example, Larry Prososki arranges patient trips to sports venues in Detroit, river cruises for women veterans, and picnics and barbecues on-site. He travels 300 miles with all of the food and cooking supplies. At Indianapolis, Linda Conway is a tireless fundraiser, helping VVA and AVVA present $22,000 to the facility for the Golden Age Games and other programs. She regularly secures VVA funding for T-shirts and U.S. Savings Bonds for student volunteers.

Because of her accomplishments, other organizations have recruited her in their fundraising initiatives. In Pennsylvania, Ken Rose serves as a rep at two facilities and is the State Council VAVS coordinator. At Northport, Connie Steers is a van driver, transporting patients to and from their VA appointments. These are but a few of VVA’s stalwart reps.

There are more than 150 VA facilities, each with more than 100 volunteer opportunities. And there are more than 100 VAVS committees in need of VVA representation. Many of our members are at retirement age, which is an ideal time to sign up as a VAVS volunteer. To paraphrase Uncle Sam: “VVA Wants You!” More importantly, our nation’s veterans need you. So bring a friend, neighbor, family member, and join the VAVS family.

To enroll as a VAVS volunteer, contact Voluntary Service at your local VA facility. To serve as a rep or dep on behalf of VVA, contact me at jmccombs@vva.org

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