In part one of this two-part series, we discussed the countless rewarding volunteer opportunities that exist within veterans organizations like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans.
This blog will delve into just a few “ala carte” volunteer options that are best done by the men and women most qualified to handle them. Often, vets in need benefit greatly from the understanding and empathy that can only come from other vets.
As a veteran wishing to volunteer, your particular skill set or personality type doesn’t matter - as long as your heart is in the right place, there’s a job for you. Veterans Administration Voluntary Service (VAVS) - Although you don’t need to be a vet to volunteer with the VA, their “United We Serve” initiative is a sort of one-stop for veterans looking for their perfect volunteer niche.
- Homeless Veterans Program: This “largest integrated network of homeless treatment and assistance services”* in the U.S. conducts outreach to find vets in need of shelter, connects at-risk vets with necessary resources, and collaborates with local government agencies and nonprofits to help vets find employment and affordable housing.
- National Cemetery Administration: The VA’s NCA volunteer page lists almost 20 options for those who’d like to lend a hand, including serving in an Honor Guard, volunteer recruitment, flag raising/lowering, acting as historian/tour guide and general groundskeeping.
- Volunteer Transportation Network: Veterans needing transportation or escorts to VA appointments can count on this network of volunteers to get them there via private or government-owned vehicles, as well as through public or contracted transport.
- Welcome Home Events: A celebratory occasion with a purpose, these events center around providing newly returned vets and their families with crucial VA healthcare and resource information. *(source) www.volunteer.va.gov
Vets 4 Warriors - This extraordinary nonprofit connects volunteer “ambassadors” with active duty, retired or discharged military personnel who are in need of any type of assistance, whether the challenge they face is personal, financial, medical, housing-related, etc.
Agents are available any time through phone, email, text or chat; and will confidentially discuss any problem for as long as it takes. If resolution can’t be found through dialogue, the agent will locate and/or provide suitable resources until the issue is resolved.
Although the organization prefers veteran volunteers, they will also accept qualified applicants who’ve had military family members or have a strong devotion to service members.
Hospice - Relying partly on federal funding and partly on volunteers and donors, hospice is simply palliative care for terminal patients, which means that hospice exists not to cure, but to help the patients and their loved ones know comfort and peace throughout the difficult process of dying.
Although anyone can be a hospice volunteer, veterans are especially prized because veteran hospice patients tend to relate to them better. Perhaps the most important job of a hospice volunteer is to provide the patient with companionship, attention and understanding; and no one understands a vet better than another vet.
The prospect of working with terminal patients can be daunting at first, but almost every hospice volunteer will attest to the fact that it can be one of life’s most rewarding and educational experiences.
Most hospices are independently owned and have their own “volunteer coordinator.” All it takes is a phone call or email to find out what kind of criteria need to be met and typically, after some simple online courses and a short training session, volunteers are assigned patients soon after applying.
When you do what you love, the joy is contagious.
The best thing about the fact that there are so many ways for vets to give back is the fact that it’s a near certainty you’ll find something you really and truly enjoy. And if you’re invested, it will be that much easier for the people you help to become enthusiastic.
Even though veteran volunteer opportunities vary greatly in type, there’s one thing they all have in common: if you say you’re a veteran, you’ll need to prove it. Your DD-214 form is often the easiest way to verify proof of service and/or type of discharge.
But if you’re one of the millions of veterans whose discharge papers were lost, destroyed, stolen or even never received, you might be relieve to know that you don’t have to be at the mercy of the National Archives.
Not that they don’t do a good job at handling the thousands of requests that pour in on a daily basis, but the truth is, ordering your military records through their eVetRecs service often turns into an ordeal of waiting, worrying and wasted effort. The Facts:
- Each state maintains its own records for the National Guard, as well as DC, meaning that there are 51 separate agencies housing NG records.
- The Army does maintain its own repository, but the National Archives CAN access Army records on request. However, they can’t do so for the Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, Marine Reserves or Merchant Marines.
- Air Force Records are housed by two separate agencies with operate independently of each other.
- On occasion, National Archive-owned records end up in the possession of the VA, which requires a search of 50 different VA locations. The ONLY way to find these records is to speak directly to the office in which it’s housed.
- Unfortunately, when the National Archives receives a request for records that are housed elsewhere, the best most applicants can expect is a letter that basically says, “Go somewhere else.”
If you’d rather spend your time checking out local volunteer opportunities than emailing and calling overwhelmed National Archives’ workers, why not let someone else do the grunt work?
DD214Direct.com is simply the fastest, easiest way to get your hands on your DD-214. Our seasoned team of retrieval pros know how to build a perfectly worded request, ensure that it reaches the proper departments and follow up on every lead, even if it takes them outside of the NA’s system (where lost records are often found).
Our competitive three-tiered pricing lets you choose your desired delivery speed (we can even email your records!) and our courteous, professional agents are ready to get started on your order today.