VA&R Service for Veterans
Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation - 2016-2017
Linda Schmitt, Service For Veterans Chairman
2016-2017 American Legion Auxiliary Service to Veterans (previously Field Service and Home Service)
Note: Recently, Field Service and Home Service merged. All hours will be combined under the heading of Service to Veterans. A new Service to Veterans pin has been designed to reflect this change. The new pin, for all who earn their hours under Service to Veterans, is obtained through The American Legion Emblem sales at emblem.legion.org.
Service to Veterans volunteers provide service to veterans, servicemembers and their families outside a VAMC. Volunteers conduct projects and work for military/veterans and/or families from their homes and in their communities. Service to Veterans volunteers maintain their own recordkeeping and dollars spent. A new pin has been designed to reflect the work of those who volunteer in their communities and at home for veterans. Hour bars are still available to earn.
1. There isn’t a VA hospital close to your community? Find opportunities for Auxiliary members to provide volunteer hours in service to veterans and their families in local communities and from their homes.
- Support veterans from the comfort of your community or home. Service to Veterans combines community volunteer opportunities and volunteering opportunities created in your home. Sew quilts for the Quilts of Valor Foundation, crochet stocking hats for the homeless, bake cupcakes for the local stand down, help a veteran use the Internet; find out what is needed, then volunteer.
- Report your Service to Veterans hours to your unit VA&R chairman.
- See Awards section of this Plan for information on Hour Bar Recognition.
2. Assist veterans in accessing VA benefits including, but not limited to, health care. This should include coordinating with the local American Legion Post Service Officer.
- Coordinate with local American Legion posts to identify the local Service Officer.
- Help eligible veterans attain benefits through referrals.
- Encourage eligible veterans to use the VA health care system and its services, including hospitals, Community Based Outpatient Clinics, Vet Centers, etc.
- Participate in and encourage veterans and their family members to participate in town-hall meetings organized by The American Legion in advance of the Legion’s System Worth Saving site visits to VA health care systems: www.legion.org/systemworthsaving.
Resource: VA Health Care Hotline for women veterans: 1-855-VA-Women (1-855-829-6636): explore.va.gov/health-care
3. Assist in activities that help homeless veterans.
Ideas: Members and Units
- Give a helping hand to the Legion's homeless veteran coordinator in your department and offer to assist that coordinator in responding to requests for assistance from homeless veterans or homeless veteran service providers.
- Use information provided by your department chairman to contact the homeless veteran coordinator at the VA health care system nearest you to explore what the unit or you can do to help homeless veterans in your community.
- Participate in the VA Project CHALENG organized by the VA health care system nearest to you. (Project CHALENG for Veterans enhances the care for homeless veterans provided by your local VA and its surrounding community service agencies.)
- Contact your local post chairman and offer your assistance if requests for help come through the Legion’s Family Support Network (FSN).
- Raise funds for local American Legion posts to help veterans and their families through the Family Support Network for veterans at risk of losing their housing or homeless veterans transitioning to permanent housing.
- Make payments of overdue rent, utility payments or deposits and security deposits.
- Host or volunteer at homeless veterans’ stand downs, events where homeless veterans receive free goods and services such as haircuts and medical exams.
- Contact homeless veteran emergency shelters, transitional housing projects and permanent housing projects in your community and identify the organization's volunteer and in-kind contribution needs, including:
- Meal preparation and serving
- Clothes collection and distribution
- Assembly and delivery of hygiene kits, buddy baskets
- Purchasing or securing household items or furniture
- Reach out to specific homeless veterans, such as residents of projects mentioned above to provide her/him practical, social and moral support.
4. Support rehabilitation and healing of veterans through arts, crafts and hobbies.
Ideas: Members and Units
- Obtain and become familiar with the 2014 edition of ALA Guide for Volunteers.
- Help your unit and department earn recognition at National Convention through donations to support VA Creative Arts Festivals. Volunteer individually, with a fellow member, or as a unit at a local Creative Arts Festival.
- Identify arts, crafts and hobby projects targeted to veterans (such as writing, oral history recording, visual and performing arts, quilting and gardening). A unit may organize a project of its own or introduce a unit to veteran arts, crafts and hobby projects already operational in the community. See Arts Deployed: Action Guide and Webinars to help you bring the arts to your community. www.alaforveterans.org/Programs/Veterans-Affairs---Rehabilitation/
- Contribute donated supplies to help supplement visual veteran artists’ needs for their projects. Contact your department chairman or your local VA hospital coordinator for a list of items.
- Donate, through departments, funds that help local veterans attend state and national Wheel Chair Games, Veterans Creative Arts Festivals, ParaOlympics, etc.
5. Help the American Legion, State Department of Veterans Affairs and Chamber of Commerce promote job fairs for veterans and their families.
- Take part in a veteran job fair by organizing or working at an informational table. Other opportunities include helping implement a Legion-sponsored job fair and/or co-hosting a Legion Family information table at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation-sponsored job fair. Additionally, Auxiliary members may initiate and host a job fair for veterans in their community.
- Serve as a career e-mentor for women veterans.
- Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, specifically if a house build is supported by The American Legion.
6. Assist and support caregivers of veterans.
- Familiarize yourself with the services of the VA caregiver support program.
- Invite the VA caregiver support coordinator in the VA healthcare system closest to you to make a presentation to your unit, district or community-wide meeting.
- Volunteer as a VA Voluntary Service volunteer support caregiver if the VA health care system closest to you offers such volunteer opportunity.
- Become a Legacy Corps AmeriCorps member if the Legacy Corps project is offered in a state or locality near you. Become a veteran caregiver peer support trainer or volunteer.
Member Award: Hour Bar Recognition for Service to Veterans Volunteers
Type of Award: Hour Bar
Presented to: Member by her department via the ALA National Headquarters
Materials and Guidelines:
- Volunteers are recognized when specific hour milestones are reached: 50, 100, 300, 500 and 1,000.
- After the first 1,000-hour bar is awarded, the next bar will be earned in 1,000 hour increments up to 20,000 hours.
- Hour bars are provided at no cost to departments; however, the appropriate pin (from which the hour bar is affixed) can be obtained from Emblem Sales at the department’s expense. See 2014 Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation: A Guide for Volunteers.
- Beginning 2014-2015 Field and Home service hours were combined into an all- encompassing category called Service to Veterans.
Additional Resources You Can Use
- Homeless Veterans Coalition: www.nchv.org
- How To Sheet: How to raise awareness in your communities about the ever-increasing number of homeless veterans. www.ALAforVeterans.org
- How To Sheet: How to increase donations to the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival. www.ALAforVeterans.org
- Other How To Sheets can be found at www.ALAforVeterans.org.
- Quilts of Valor - www.qovf.org
- VA Homeless Programs –www.va.gov/homeless/index.asp
- HUD Homeless Assistance Programs – www.onecpd.info/homelessness-assistance/
- On-Call: Handbook for Homeless Veterans and Service Providers www.legion.org/homelessveterans/handbook
- The American Legion Family Support Network: www.legion.org/familysupport
- National Veterans Creative Arts Festival Facebook Page
- American Legion Auxiliary Veterans Creative Activities Action Guide, www.ALAforVeterans.org
- National Veterans Creative Arts Festival, www.creativeartsfestival.va.gov