When our country needed men and women to serve in our Armed Forces our Veterans answered the call to serve. Today Knights are being called to serve our Veterans through a new program: “Serving Those Who Served.” The VA Healthcare System recognizes that volunteers provide a valuable service for Veterans and their families. It is an honor and a privilege for us as Knights of Columbus to volunteer our time and efforts for those who have sacrificed so much for our nation.
The VA Healthcare System is in need of volunteers the year around. Our goal in 2017-2018 is to have an active corps of Knights serving as volunteers at every Veteran’s Administration Medical Facility in California. When volunteering at any VA Medical Facility always inform the VA Volunteer Services Department that you are a Knight of Columbus. It is imperative that each Knight who volunteers their time must report their service hours to the Veteran’s Administration/Volunteer Services Director (VA/VS). Volunteer hours will be recorded and posted in the VA Volunteer Database System. A summary of Volunteer hours will be calculated and forwarded to your local VA/VS Representative on an annual basis for accounting purposes.
Volunteer opportunities for Knights include:
Supporting the Catholic chaplains in their ministry of spiritual support to our Catholic patients. Providing reception and information services – working in reception areas to provide information to visitors
- Providing transportation for veterans
- Helping make patients comfortable by distributing toiletries, sweaters and other items that help make veterans more comfortable
- Arts and crafts – providing materials and programs that help veterans develop artistic and creative skills
- Patient visiting
- Offering holiday celebrations – organizing parties for veterans
- Taking patients to ball games or performances when possible
- Hosting picnics, parties or recreation outings
Upon discharge from the VA facility some veterans find they have lost touch with friends and family.
Discharged veterans need compassionate, caring and committed individuals to:
- Help them access community events and services.
- Share their time by visiting them, listening to them and talking with them.
- Remember them on birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions.
Sometimes councils and assemblies are not located close enough to a Veteran’s Medical Facility to make regular efforts practical. However, they may still participate in and make a valuable contribution to the “Serving Those Who Served” program- Some Examples:
- Organize a drive to collect clothing, coats, gloves, pajamas, robes, toiletries, etc., for veterans
- Organize programs to provide Rosaries, Bibles, Catholic religious literature, and Chapel items like Mass bells, Easter candle holders, altar lines
- Volunteer as Eucharistic Ministers to take Communion to inpatients
- Collecting or developing a plan to buy television sets, VCRs, DVD players or stereo
equipment to donate for use in medical facility common areas. Collect video and audio
tapes, books, DVD’s, and CDs for the facility.
- Develop a plan to donate personal computers and computer programs, printers (as well as paper and ink) for use by veterans
- Travel to a VA facility to put on a special program or entertainment for patients
- Plan and conduct a special outing, if possible, for veterans such as a picnic, a trip to the ball park or a special community event
- Plan a special holiday event and travel to the facility to conduct it for the veterans or adopt veterans at a distant facility and remember them regularly with cards and letters
Please contact one of the following Directors in your area for volunteer application procedures and available volunteer positions. Please note that anyone can volunteer twice a year at their local VA Healthcare System without undergoing a background check. It is important to remember that the VA Healthcare System Volunteers are important members of the health care team and are appreciated for their time, talents, and energy. Every day they help the VA Healthcare System provide the highest quality of care for the men and women who served our country.
VA in San Francisco, 415-750-2144, Owetdia Dupree is the Program Manager
VA in Los Angeles, 310-268-4350, Sadie Stewart is the Director
VA in Long Beach, 562-826-5715, John Tyler is the Program Manager
VA in Loma Linda, 909-583-6011, Sharon Tice is the Chief
VA in Palo Alto, 650-858-3903, Bill Ball is the Program Manager
VA in Sacramento, 916-366-5372, Maria Almes is the Program Manager
VA in San Diego, 619-858-552-8585 x7819, Donna M. Fischer is the Program Manager
As Knights of Columbus, we are also disciples of Christ who are also instruments of His Mercy. As disciples, we must promote His spiritual and corporal acts of Mercy among those we encounter. As Knights of Columbus we are now being asked in 2017-2018: just as Jesus asked of His disciples 2000 years ago, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.”
Veteran’s Assist Program
California State Chairman