IT’S NOT ENOUGH MERELY TO EXIST
YOU MUST GIVE SOME TIME TO YOUR FELLOWMAN,
EVEN IF IT’S A LITTLE THING
DO SOMETHING FOR THOSE WHO NEED MAN’S HELP
FOR WHICH YOU GET NO OTHER PAY
BUT THE PRIVILEGE OF DOING.
– DR ALBERT SCHWEITZER
Participation in activities in behalf of disabled veterans has been a tradition of The American Legion since the days of its founding. Planning for incorporating Legionnaires into the care and treatment programs of the Veterans Health Administration was begun in April, 1946. At that time, representatives of The American Legion and several other veteran and welfare organizations met in Washington, D.C. with representatives of VA Central Office, and developed a basic plan of operation. That plan became known as the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS).
The VA Under Secretary for Health has stated that The American Legion has been one of the most active organizations in working at the national level for a purposeful program of volunteer activities in, and beyond, the medical facility. Volunteer activity is premised on its therapeutic value to the patient. The medical facility patient care program is developed by the treatment staff, and is under the control of physicians.
The properly oriented American Legion volunteer brings to the veteran patient a special talent and understanding which bridges the gap between the medical facility and the community, aids his rehabilitation, and speeds the veteran’s return to productive community living.
GENERAL VOLUNTEER INFORMATION
VOLUNTEER: An individual who has been accepted into the Voluntary Service Program and who has:
• Agreed to serve on a “without compensation” basis;
• Made a format commitment to serve by signing the RS Volunteer Information Card
• Completed the orientation prescribed by the medical facility
• Completed 10 hours of probationary service within 60 days following orientation.
REGULARLY SCHEDULED VOLUNTEER: A volunteer who agrees to serve on an approved, regular schedule of assignment under VA supervision. (All other volunteers are classified as “Occasional Volunteers)”.The volunteer worker brings a unique interpersonal contribution to the VA medical care program, which cannot be provided by the other members of the medical facility team. He/she brings enthusiasm and sympathetic understanding. Most significantly, the volunteer reflects the atmosphere of the world outside of the medical facility. He/she represents community interest and happenings, and surrounds the patient with a normal, rather that a medical facility environment. The volunteer creates a bridge between the medical facility and the community. The volunteer possesses certain special assets in addition to enthusiasm and community orientation and involvement. He/she possesses a freshness and flexibility not routinely found in trained professionals. A special closeness tends to develop between the patient and the volunteer, especially where there are similarities in their background.
THE AMERICAN LEGION, DEPARTMENT OF TEXAS
VETERANS AFFAIRS AND REHABILITATION COMMISSION
VAVS REPRESENTATIVE AND DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVE POLICY AND PROCEDURE GUIDE
The following, adopted by the VA & R Commission and approved by the Department Executive Committee, are the policies and procedures governing the appointment of and The duties and functions of the VAVS Representatives and Deputy Representatives:
1. District Commanders are responsible for nominating individuals to serve in the Capacities of VAVS Representative and Deputy Representative at Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) medical centers and outpatient clinics (the latter if deemed appropriate by the respective DVA Voluntary Services Officer (VSO).
2. District Commanders will first meet with the respective VSO to discuss individuals to be nominated. They must meet with the approval of the VSO.
3. District Commanders will send to Department the title of the position being filled, the name and post of the individual nominated, the facility where the individual will work, the qualifications of the individual being nominated and a statement that the nomination has the approval of the local Chief of Voluntary Services. This nomination will be forwarded to the Department’s Chairman of the Hospital and VAVS Sub-division for concurrence prior to being forwarded to National for appointment (Department is not the appointing authority for these Positions).
4. District Commanders will monitor individuals appointed as VAVS Representatives and Deputy Representatives to ensure they are complying with the provisions of this Policy and Procedure Guide and recommend replacements if they are not. District Commanders will periodically discuss the performance of appointed individuals with the respective VSO and recommend replacements if necessary.
2. Are the official representatives to the DVA facilities to which they are appointed in all aspects of The American Legion’s participation in the Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) program.
3. Will meet with the respective VSO immediately after appointment to receive an orientation on the local VAVS program.
4. Will keep the VSO informed of all aspects of the Legion’s participation in the VAVS program.
5. Will distribute information concerning the VAVS program to each post within the facility’s area.
6. Will attend the quarterly meeting of the facility’s VAVS Committee and distribute copies of the committee minutes to each post in the facility’s area and the Chairman of the Department’s Hospital and VAVS Sub-Division.
7. Will meet annually with the VSO to complete an Annual Joint Review.
8. Will keep the area Legion membership informed on the needs of veterans in the form of volunteer support and resources.
9. Will know who the Legion volunteers in the facility are and where they work. VSO will be contacted to ascertain how individual volunteers are performing.
Volunteers not performing satisfactorily should be removed from the VAVS program by the VSO.
10. Will make a quarterly written report, due not later that April 10, July 10, September 10 and January 10, to the Department’s Chairman of the Hospital and VAVS Sub-division. This report will include the number of Legion volunteers in the facility, the total number of volunteer hours worked during the quarter, any problems noted concerning volunteers, recommendations for improving the volunteer service, and any other information deemed appropriate.
11. Will contact each post providing volunteers concerning the annual submission of The American Legion VA Volunteer Award nomination (due in December). The nomination form can be found in the Department’s Post Administration Manual.
12. Will forward to Department the necessary certification for American Legion VAVS awards for volunteers as they become eligible.
13. Will be familiar with the Legion’s Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service Handbook.
14. May accompany the Department Commander on the annual DVA facility tour and be prepared to discuss the local VAVS program.
VAVS DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVES:
15. Will perform those duties and functions assigned by the VAVS Representative which are necessary for an effective VAVS volunteer program.
16. Will represent the assigned Representative at quarterly VAVS Committee meetings in the absence of the Representative.
DEPARTMENT OF TEXAS: A copy of this guide will be provided to each serving and incoming District Commander and each serving and newly appointed VAVS Representative and Deputy Representative.
THIS POLICY AND PROCEDURE GUIDE WAS APPROVED AT THE JULY 2003 MEETING OF THE VA & R COMMISSION AND APPROVED BY THE CONVENTION BODY ATTENDING THE AMERICAN LEGION DEPARTMENT CONVENTION IN LUBBOCK TEXAS JULY 2003.
VOLUNTEER JOBS AT VA FACILITIES IN TEXAS
Due to the large number of VA Hospitals, VA Outpatient Clinics, and State Veterans Homes there is a great need for volunteers. There are so many positions that volunteers can fill to assist both the VA personnel and the Veterans they are caring for. With the change in the age of the veterans that are being cared for at VA facilities younger volunteers are needed to be able to relate to these new patients. So many of the current volunteers are from 65 years of age and older, and it is getting more difficult for them to put in the hours that they use to do. We (The American Legion) have many members who are looking for something to do, but are just not aware of the value they would be to fellow veterans. The importance of having someone who has been then and done that, care enough to volunteer time to help those who need a little picking up and friendship is something that is not forgotten. The rewards that you receive are not measurable but something that you will feel in your heart. There are many things that you can do even if you don’t want direct contact with patients. If you are interested in volunteering please contact either the American Legion Representative or Deputy or the Chief of Voluntary Service at the VA facility.
TYPES OF JOBS
THE FOLLOWING IS A LIST OF THE TYPES OF JOBS THAT VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED FOR AT MANY OF THE VA FACILITIES IN TEXAS
• Shuttle drivers from out patient clinics to the hospital.
• Parking lot Golf cart drivers
• Escorts to take patients from one place to another for tests and appointments
• File clerks in the records area
• Deliver books to patient rooms
• Visit the patients
• Work in the pharmacy or lab
• Assist patients with crafts
• Write letters for a patient or read letters or a book
• Help with office work, mailing out letters to veterans and volunteers
• Work at the Information Deck
• Answer Phones
• Take patients on outings
• Supply recreation activities Bingo, movies, board games, cards