Southern Arizona VA Health Care System

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SAVAHCS Volunteers Make A Difference

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Volunteer Sharing
By Deborah M. Brookshire, M.Ed., CAVS
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

      Lately there is so much information in the media encouraging self-improvement.   TV and popular magazines talk at length about how to reinvent one ’s self. This prompted my curiosity about what types of activities people were engaging in as part of their annual New Year’s resolutions.  What I found on the Internet did not surprise me.  Organization wizard Franklin Covey ranked the most popular New Year’s resolutions for 2012.  According to its annual survey of U.S. Consumers, Covey lists “Do more volunteer work” as one of the top ten New Year’s resolutions.

At the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System (SAVAHCS) our volunteers have made serving others a top priority for many years.  Volunteers have a tremendous affect on the lives of our patients, their families and our staff.  We would like to share some specific examples of how in 2011, SAVAHCS volunteers and donors made a difference.

This past year 1,450 volunteers donated 153,500 hours toward serving Veterans!  This is equal to the time worked by 74 full-time employees.  Volunteers also provided staffing support for 50 different SAVAHCS hospital programs.

The generosity of our donors contributed over $1,113,934 in monetary and material donations!  This is a 38 percent increase above our 2010 donations totals. Even in difficult economic times, SAVAHCS volunteers and donors step up to thank our Nation’s Veterans.  Included in these donations was $139,885 in funding dedicated to helping homeless Veterans and their families.

Volunteers enthusiastically supported the VA’s Veteran-Centered Care program initiatives by donating their time to the Veterans Court, Patient Concierge, In-patient Companions and Volunteer Mentor programs. Many of these programs require extensive training time beyond traditional orientations.  In addition, through time and donations SAVAHCS volunteers supported many new alternative therapies for our patients, to include yoga and chair massage, as well as aroma, music and pet therapy.

In an effort to provide premier service for patients and their families, SAVAHCS offers Concierge Services for hospitalized patients, patients attending clinic appointments and families accompanying them.  It is the responsibility of the Concierge volunteer to be warm, friendly, approachable and extremely courteous 100% of the time. Impeccable customer service is the trademark of being a SAVAHCS Concierge.  Since the program’s inception in January 2011, Concierge volunteers have worked 13,443 hours to provide a pleasant, stress free experience at our hospital.

The SAVAHCS Volunteer Transportation Network encompasses a myriad of programs, which offer specialized transportation services to Veteran patients, family members and guests, providing safe, timely transport to medical appointments, recreation, and community reintegration activities.  SAVAHCS volunteers provided 3,139 outpatients with transportation to medical appointments.  Most of these patients have no other transportation options and would not receive timely medical care without the dedication of these special people.

The Volunteer Caregiver Support Program was developed to meet the growing need of supporting those outside the medical community who have daily responsibility of caring for ill, injured and disabled Veterans in their homes.  SAVAHCS volunteers made 877 visits to Veteran patients in the community, providing respite for their caregivers by volunteering over 5,500 hours for the Volunteer Caregiver Support Program.

This is only a sample of the many ways SAVAHCS volunteers and donors serve Veteran patients and their families.  Please encourage your family and friends to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions by volunteering at their local VA hospital.  Help the VA make 2012 a better year for our Veterans and their families.  For more information on volunteering at the Tucson VA hospital go on line at http://www.tucson.va.gov/giving/.