Celebrating and commemorating our veterans. United States military veterans and their families.

Volunteering at the Hampton Roads VA Medical Center – Gig Line #3

By Marsha M. Brown

A sleeping giant has awakened! In Thesaurus, the term ‘Veteran’ is defined as ‘experienced person’ or ‘expert’. My definition? the mightiest of men and women – and they’re coming more and more to the forefront. Emails to editor@giglineheroes.com are increasing, questions are being asked, topics of concern are being shared and expressions of gratitude make us proud. Its clear that together, we’re going to accomplish great things for our Veterans and we’re thankful because we can all agree, making a fuss over them is long overdue.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve thought about the Veteran events we could support in honor of our heroes. In my minds eye, I’ve pictured a big parade with all branches of the military marching, drums beating, symbols clanging, flags flapping and everybody standing in awe of our Veteran Armed Forces (past and present) as they ride through the streets of downtown Manteo. I can hear the crowds cheer, applaud and show our selfless men and women how much we appreciate them. I can see it right now, can’t you? Can you just imagine for a second – speeches of gratitude on the steps of the old Dare County Courthouse? Patriotic songs sung by our young people? And a multitude of Veteran faces in the crowd that says it all – having ‘been there, done that’?

It’s important if not imperative to travel the roads of life with a desire to help our fellow man. We all need each other, no matter how independent we think we are. Many of us have had and lost – too many of us have lost more than we’ve gained in recent past and there are people everywhere who need our help or a kind word – that we can be a blessing to.

Late last year we called the Hampton VA Medical Center about their requirements in order to be an occasional volunteer. It was obvious from the onset the gentleman we spoke with cared deeply for his family of patients. During the conversation, I explained that Billy was a Vietnam Veteran and we wanted to do something on occasion to help residents at the hospital. I asked him if there were Veterans, especially during Christmas, who had few family or friends visit them. To my surprise, he told me about 75%. W-h-a-t? He further stated there was an orientation class to make sure we understood the dos and don’ts, patient confidentiality etc. When asked what he thought the residents would most appreciate from us, without pause he told me it would be our “company”. Imagine for a second the blessing we all could be to a Veteran who might need help just putting a straw into a carton so he or she could drink. And we think we have problems.

Since then, we’ve completed the necessary volunteer paperwork, attended our orientation class and only have the PPD (TB skin test) now left to do. Once they process the forms, we’ll be fingerprinted and cleared for official volunteer work. And hopefully, this holiday season we’ll be able to enjoy their company! How about you? Will you have any free time this fall and winter to visit our wounded Veterans? Bring a big smile? Or a hug? Or some other measure of good cheer? If you do or if you just want to think about it for now, please keep it in mind. Imagine how much one day of saying ‘thank you’ to those who have served or fought for you and me would mean…not just to them…but to us!

As for volunteering, they’ll have to find something other than food prep work for me to do! Believe me, when I say I’m a terrible cook that I mean it! My friend suggested I not say “terrible” but it’s the truth! The stories I could tell you about my blue green beans? Or my hard as a rock yeast rolls? In this case, it would benefit the residents there to be on a restricted diet!

I could volunteer to sing…well, no that wouldn’t work either. No problem getting our kids to sleep when they were little. They’d cover their little ears with their pillow and eagerly welcome Mr. Sandman just to keep from hearing my golden tones! No, my singing would only clear the hospital rooms like there was a fire drill.
We just want to sit with someone, read to them or just listen if they want to talk. We want to help make them feel special and embrace the Christmas blessing of new friendships that wait. Mostly, we just want to tell them they aren’t forgotten.

Remember: this coming Saturday, March 31, 2012 is the big Charlotte Motor Speedway – Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration. Billy and I hope to be able to attend. If we do, we’ll have plenty of inspiration for future articles.

Also, we understand the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting agenda scheduled for Monday, April 16, 2012 – 5:00 PM may include the proposed Veterans Advisory Board topic. If you have an interest in serving on the Veterans Board, please make application prior to 12:00 PM, Thursday, April 5, 2012. Until next time, stay tuned!

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