Submitted by Patricia Kranzow, National Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Vice Chairman
The ALA currently has representation in 138 Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. This is 28 fewer than last year. We have 267 representatives and deputies in these facilities. The new VA computer system has glitches, so we are in the process of checking our records with VA records, facility by facility, to make sure we have an accurate count. All of the National Advisory Committee member organizations are faced with this challenge.
Between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, our number of regularly scheduled (RS) contributing volunteers was 1,527; RS hours were 106,255; occasional hours (OH) were 28,706; and total hours were 134,961.
The VA uses a value of $24.14 per hour; total hours served by ALA volunteers equals approximately $3.3 million. This number demonstrates that ALA members make a difference in the quality of life for our veterans.
This is a great contribution, but increased efforts in recruitment and retention are the keys to making sure our veterans continue to get the care and services they need. The Department of Veterans Affairs has identified five priorities:
- Greater choice for veterans
- Modernizing the system
- Focusing resources more effectively
- Improving timeliness of services
- Suicide prevention
The VA recognizes volunteers need to feel that their assignments are meaningful, flexible, offer opportunities for personal growth, provide personal satisfaction, and that they are acknowledged and appreciated. In the quest for more volunteers, the VA has developed key programs for recruitment initiatives targeting specific areas for volunteer growth and future need. These are:
- Eliminating homelessness among veterans
- Comprehensive caregiver support
- “No veteran dies alone”
- Supporting women veterans
- Participation in all VAMC mandatory activities and programs
Please consider volunteering at your local VA facility. If you know someone in your unit looking for a meaningful way to give back to their community, talk to them about the VA’s priorities listed above and suggest they explore their volunteering options. Remember, the power is in the ask, so start asking. Your personal invitation could move someone to action for the most meaningful work of their life.
For more information, email VA&R@ALAforVeterans.org.
This article was originally published as an eBulletin.