2022-2023 National Hospital Ambassador
Counting Our Blessings and Giving Back
It’s that time of year when we pause to count our blessings. Of course, family and loved ones are always at the top of our lists–but there is so much more I am thankful for. I am grateful to the men and women who served our country, allowing all of us to live in freedom, and for all the VFW Auxiliary volunteers who support them–especially through the Hospital Program. Scrolling through the many reports you have sent; it has been touching to read about your creative and meaningful projects. The time and love you have devoted to making a better way of life for those in need is simply amazing! My mother always told me, “Whatever you give away, you get back ten times.” In other words, in all aspects of life, you get back more than what you give; our volunteers, with their caring hands and generous hearts, give their all!
Thank you for everything you do and for your selfless dedication to this organization. May God bless all of you.
Women Veterans Health Care
The VFW Auxiliary has been advocating for female combat veterans’ healthcare since 2013, the year that women were granted the right to join the military and fight on the front lines along with their male counterparts. Admittedly, it has been a slow process, but most VA hospitals have made significant strides in meeting the needs of female veterans and service members. As volunteers, we can improve the quality of life for both men and women. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Hosting a baby shower, including both parents, at a VA facility. Reach out to local businesses and ask them to donate an item, such as a crib, highchair, stroller, swing, diapers, clothing, formula, or other needs. If you cannot get into the hospital, the event could be held outside in warm weather. “Drive Through” baby showers are another option, which could be held in any location that allows it.
- Provide feminine items, such as scented shampoo and conditioner, disposable razors (if allowed), skin lotions, pads, tampons, powders, etc. Always check with the facility to see if any specific items are prohibited.
- Donate items of clothing for female veterans. Soft nightgowns or pajamas are something that would be welcomed while hospitalized, instead of wearing the standard (and often worn-out) sleepwear offered at most facilities.
- Advise female veterans of the many benefits that are specifically offered to women by the Department of Veterans Affairs. These benefits will be in accordance to each individual hospital.
VETERANS VOICES WRITING PROJECT
There have been several inquiries about the Veterans Voices Writing Project as to whether it remains as part of the Hospital Program, and the answer is a definite YES! Here is the link to obtain information about how you can become involved: https://veteransvoices.org/
For over 70 years, Veterans’ Voices Magazine has shared stories of military veterans’ combat experiences. Many of those who served never really talked about their service, keeping their memories to themselves. It is not unusual for a veteran to feel a sense of guilt that they survived, while others did not. Sharing their thoughts, concerns and emotions can be very therapeutic in helping the veteran, whether the trauma was from combat or emotional distress. In addition, it helps preserve the history of military conflicts and allows others to better understand the military experience.
Here are some ways to become involved:
- Share the mission with other veterans, their families, and community.
- Volunteer to help record, write or edit typographical or grammatical errors within the story.
- Start a writing group with other veterans in your area (Veterans Voices can help you do this.)
- Help office staff with administrative duties. (For this, all volunteers must be able to utilize technology and the internet.)
- Volunteer to represent Veterans’ Voices Writing Project on Veterans Administration Voluntary Service Committees.
For those of you who serve in non-VA facilities, there are multiple ways to offer support for local hospitals and nursing homes. Some ideas are taking treats, providing entertainment (especially on national/patriotic holidays), or donating clothing if the facility approves it. If you aren’t sure about donated items, consult the hospital or nursing home director for ideas. Be as creative as you can and report your work to me. I love hearing about all you do!
As always, I encourage you to share the National awards in your respective Departments. You can find everything you need in MALTA under MALTA Member Resources. Most Departments have been diligent in promoting the awards, but if you have done so and have not reported it, please let me know.
I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, filled with joy and good health.