PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The Wilkes-Barre Va Medical Center has stood since the 1950s providing health services to men and women who’ve served.
Carrying out its mission requires more than a paid staff. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains the value and constant need for VA volunteers.
Greeting visitor after visitor after visitor, 73-year-old Robert Hayes helps veterans and non-veterans alike navigate the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center.
“I try to do my best. It’s what I would want for someone to give me the information correctly,” Mr. Hayes said.
He sports a red ambassador blazer several times a week which is a different uniform than what this Army veteran of 21 years once wore.
“I’ve been volunteering since 2008,” Mr. Hayes said.
Mr. Hayes is not alone. 102-year-old veteran Vincent Savarino of Jenkins Township is also among dozens of volunteers. He’s been driving here and donating his time for 35 years. When asked why he volunteers, Mr. Savarino says, “Because I want this country to be the best. And to help the servicemen.”
Help is what the VA volunteer program needs to fulfill a valuable function according to Chief of Voluntary Service Debra Schlosser.
“They help enrich our veterans’ lives”, she said. “They help bring smiles to our patients who are veterans who are here who live here.”
Some volunteers give homebound vets a much-needed ride.
“We bring veterans in for their appointments and we take them back home,” said Paul Hankey who is the Disabled American Veterans Coordinator at the VA. He added, “We need more drivers for all different areas.”
Currently, about seven dozen volunteer drivers bring patients to their VA appointments Monday through Friday. But having even more volunteer drivers would allow for more timely and frequent rides for vets in need. It’s a way to give back to the men and women who gave us all so much.
Volunteers at the VA don’t have to be veterans. They just need to have a willingness and commitment to help our vets. Click here to learn more.