Jacksonville National Cemetery helps teach at-risk youth about dignity, honor, and respect

Seven years ago, when Marine and ex-Oakland Raider football player Glenn Ellison walked the few hundred yards from his headquarters at The Parent Help Center in Jacksonville, Florida, to the Jacksonville National Cemetery, he came looking for a job, not for himself, but for the dozens of at-risk youth he mentors in the summer.  By chance, he ran into 23-year Florida National Guard soldier and Afghanistan Veteran, Larry Feltner, a maintenance worker at the national cemetery.  The bond was immediate.

“We got work,” Larry said.

Ellison hosts two summer camps each year—one for boys and one for girls.  Camp Consequence was created for parents, children and families.

“We believe that the first step in behavior change is the parent,” said Ellison. “Once we have taught the parents what to do at the Empowered Parent Conference, we show them how to do it at Camp Consequence. Camp Consequence is the place where their questions get answered and their parenting plan starts to come together. Camp Consequence is also where their child will begin to understand.”

While parents are learning new coping skills, children learn about responsibility and consequences in an austere environment—away from television, music and smartphones.

“It’s a real eye-opener,” said Ellison.

A big part of the success of this program takes place at Jefferson National Cemetery.  Children arrive at the cemetery prepared to work.  A typical day begins with the National Anthem, salute to the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. Then they clean headstones, weed flowerbeds and pick up trash.  They are also taught military customs and courtesies.

“Very quickly they learn to take off their hats and stand at attention when they hear TAPS,” said Feltner. “They also learn about being respectful of those interred here, to talk quietly, not lean on upright headstones, etc.”

Feltner has been employed with the Jacksonville National Cemetery since 2008 and volunteers with the Jacksonville Youth Camp.  He is responsible for motivating at-risk youths to be productive members of society in the years to come.

Another important piece of the Parent Help Center program takes place year-round. Every third Saturday, Ellison brings children and parents in the program to the cemetery. They meet at the main flagpole where former military members stand before bronze emblems representing their branch of service and share stories of sacrifice.  It’s powerful and emotional.  The impact is palpable.

“The children see an honorable option for their future,” said former Jacksonville policeman, Wally Butler.  “My son was in and out of the program several times.  This summer he’ll graduate from basic training at Fort Sill.”

Wally’s wife, Becky, served as the Girls Camp director from 2013-2016.   She took this year off to see her son graduate.

“The girls show real ownership of the cemetery,” said Butler.  “When Veterans or family members see all those young people out there caring for their loved ones, it gets quite emotional.  They’ve even stopped to take pictures with the teenagers.”

Often when the children return to Jacksonville National Cemetery, they’ll point out the section they worked on or wonder ‘why there’s a weed growing in my cemetery.’

Families participate in The Parent Help Center program from all over the country.  Former Heisman Trophy winner, Charlie Ward and his wife, Tonja, found the program worked for their son.

The youngest of their three children spent last summer in camp.  So far the turnaround has been remarkable.

“We needed an assist. We tried everything and we are thankful we found this program,” Tonja Ward said. “After completing camp, our son earned four citizenship awards, made the Honor Roll, and even came back as a camp helper.”

Jacksonville National Cemetery Director Al Richburg sees great value in the program for youth and families.

“The program has a high rate of success,” said Richburg, who retired from the U.S. Army in 1994.  “At the same time, we get to teach children about duty, honor and service, and show them how we take care of the men and women who served the country.”

James Theres is a speechwriter for the National Cemetery Administration in Washington D.C. He is a U.S. Army Veteran of the Persian Gulf War and a 10-time VHA Communication Awards recipient while serving as a public affairs officer in Jackson, Mississippi, and Tomah, Wisconsin. The 30th of May is his first documentary film.

 

Posted on July 18, 2017 .

Veterans compete in National Wheelchair Games

By Hans Petersen, Veterans Health Administration

Last year, Navy Veteran Jeff Deleon of Salem, Oregon, signed up for seven events and announced that he planned on taking home seven gold medals.

That’s the spirit of competition that hundreds of Veterans bring each year to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

It’s the 37th year for the event, being held this year in Cincinnati July 17 – 22.

The purpose of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games is to provide Veterans with physical disabilities an introductory experience to a variety of wheelchair sports and expose them to the numerous organized wheelchair sports and recreation activities available nationwide.

The games serve to encourage Veterans to become aware of their abilities and potential while promoting a spirit of healthy activity and camaraderie.

The games are presented each year by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America with additional support from numerous corporate and community sponsors.

At the games, Veterans compete in:

  • 9-Ball
  • Air Guns
  • Archery
  • Basketball
  • Boccia
  • Bowling
  • Handcycling
  • Field Events
  • Motor Rally
  • Power Soccer
  • Quad Rugby
  • Slalom
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Track
  • Trapshooting
  • Weightlifting

Participation is open to Veterans having spinal cord injuries, amputations, multiple sclerosis or other neurological conditions who require a wheelchair for athletic competition and who are eligible to receive care at a VA medical facility.

Volunteers make it happen

To accommodate the needs of the athletes, more than 3,000 local volunteers are required to assist with all aspects of the games, from helping with transportation to event set-up, water distribution, assistance with meals, and numerous other activities that will help guarantee a successful event.

Quality of life and better health

The games demonstrate the therapeutic value of sports and competition. As presenters of the event, Paralyzed Veterans and the VA are committed to improving the quality of life for Veterans with disabilities and fostering better health through sports competition.

While past games have produced a number of national and world-class champions, the event also provides opportunities for newly injured Veterans to gain sports skills and be exposed to other athletes who use wheelchairs.

Since the games began in 1981, thousands of disabled Veterans have enjoyed the health benefits provided by sports participation and have revitalized the spirit of competition within themselves.

VA secretary Shulkin unveils world’s most advanced commercial prosthesis

Veterans are first to receive the technology

Today, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin, M.D. unveiled the world’s most advanced commercial prosthetic — the Life Under Kinetic Evolution (LUKE) arm — during a visit to the VA New York Harbor Health Care System’s Manhattan campus.

The event also included a demonstration of the technology by the first Veteran amputees to receive the device.

A collaboration between VA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and industry, the LUKE Arm is the product of nearly eight years of testing and research, and holds the potential to significantly benefit Veterans and others with upper-extremity amputations. Unlike less-advanced prosthetics, the entire LUKE arm can move as one unit, reducing the labor-intensive process of controlling one joint at a time. The LUKE arm also features the first commercially available powered shoulder, with up to 10 powered degrees of freedom.

Simply stated, the LUKE arm will help restore Veterans’ ability to perform a variety of one and two-handed activities. With accompanying rehabilitation, recipients can use the LUKE arm to perform tasks, such as drinking from a glass, picking up small pieces of food to eat, cooking or gift-wrapping presents.

Fred Downs and Artie McAuley are the first Veterans to receive the LUKE arm, the world’s most advanced commercial prosthetic.

“The LUKE arm is a shining example of why VA exists,” Secretary Shulkin said. “There is no commercial market for this type of technology. The patient population is simply too small to motivate private companies to pursue these types of advancements on their own. This is why VA and its research efforts – efforts that could not be replicated in the private sector – are so important.”

Fred Downs and Artie McAuley are the first Veterans to receive the LUKE arm.

“The LUKE arm is a great tool, especially for high-level amputees like me,” McAuley said. “I’m amazed by the technology, and the level of flexibility and full range of motion, which allows me to do much more independently.”

Fred Downs added, “The technology has definitely been an improvement in my ability to perform day to day activities, most notably in grasping. It’s useful when an opposing hand is needed, in the workshop or while cooking.”

In fiscal year 2016, VA provided care for nearly 90,000 Veterans with amputations, more than 20,000 of whom had upper-limb involvement.

Posted on June 30, 2017 .

D.C. Veteran helps turn houses into homes for formerly homeless Veterans

Although he was delighted to learn about the important work of VA and its parnters to help homeless Veterans move into permanent housing several years ago, Veteran Rick Ecker was troubled when he heard that Veteranssometimes have no furniture when they move in. So last summer, he founded the nonprofit Vets on Track Foundation in Virginia to make Veterans’ transition out of homelessness more comfortable. Through the foundation’s Fresh Start program, local Veterans exiting homelessness receive donated furniture and other household items, like bed linens and dishes, for their new homes.

For one Veteran helped by Vets on Track, those simple items make all the difference: “Vets on Track … came out personally and looked around my empty apartment and took the time to really understand my needs and treated me with dignity and respect,” said Norman, a former U.S. Army National Guardsman who found himself living in a homeless shelter years after his service. “They made my apartment look like a home. Without them it would have [taken] a long time for me to purchase my home needs. … ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,’ and Vets on Track has taken that step.”

Due to the tireless efforts of community members like Ecker and the coordinated work of partners across the country, the number of Veterans who are homeless has dropped by 47 percent since 2010. This success is being realized in communities throughout the United States; as of May 2017, more than 40 communities and three states have effectively ended Veteran homelessness, with more states and communities announcing this accomplishment every month.

The growing Vets on Track Foundation is able to make a difference for Veterans when people come together to help.

Ecker had been renting U-Haul trucks to pick up and drop off donated items, but over time, the rental costs and the burden on volunteers started to become too much. That’s when the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation (MC-LEF) stepped in to assist: within two days of hearing about Rick’s predicament, the foundation had committed to purchasing Vets on Track’s first moving truck.

“I’m overwhelmed with gratitude — I just started crying when I read the message,” Ecker said. “For someone to have responded that quickly, it really showed how much they believe in what we are doing.” Thanks to the MC-LEF, he now has a truck and will now be able to dedicate more resources helpingVeterans in his area.

The community support doesn’t stop there — thanks to local businessman, Rick Groux, owner of JR Warehouse, LLC, Vets on Track has been given 3,000 square feet of wharehouse space for free for the next three months, with consideration for additional months. This space will allow Ecker to organize his current stock donations, as well as accept more.

With the help of partnering organizations and volunteers, Vets on Track facilitates an average of five move-ins a month. Ecker is looking for even more volunteers to meet one on one with the Veterans he serves to discuss what furniture and supplies they need — and to assess the living space and the surrounding neighborhood — in preparation for move-in day. But Vets on Track doesn’t stop there. Last winter, the foundation delivered Christmas trees and other holiday decorations to Veterans who receive housing assistance through Friendship Place, a nearby homeless services organization.

Ecker and his team have furnished 48 homes — and with an expansion of Vets on Track in the works, he expects to furnish even more. Ecker is looking to open regional offices and community warehouses in nine areas across the country. With this cross-country expansion, donations could be collected easily from anywhere in the United States. His hope is that with more offices and more volunteers to staff them, “no matter where a Veteran is in need, we can reach them.”

The work to end Veteran homelessness will not be done until every Veteran is stably housed. Thanks to the dedication of organizations like Ecker’s, we are getting closer to that number every day. For more information about Vets on Track Foundation, watch the organzition’s YouTube video or visit www.vettrack.org.

To learn more about how you can help prevent and end Veteran homelessness, please visit the VA Homeless Stakeholder webpage.

This article was submitted by VA’s Homeless Veterans Outreach and Communications Office, whose mission is to improve access to VA care among homeless and at-risk Veterans by expanding awareness of VA programs for that subset of the Veteran population. The office also helps to develop collaborative relationships with organizations that can help homeless Veterans access employment opportunities, affordable housing, and move-in essential items, which all increase the likelihood that they will remain stably housed after exiting homelessness.

Posted on June 19, 2017 .

Nationwide opioid epidemic prompts VA to implement life-saving idea

Through VA’s Diffusion of Excellence Initiative, innovators are helping VA prevent Veteran opioid-related deaths by making it easier to deliver life-saving medication.

Opioid overdoses take the lives of thousands of Americans each year, claiming nearly 30,000 in 2014 alone. To complicate matters, Veterans are twice as likely to die from accidental opioid overdose than non-Veterans.

Fortunately, there is a drug, Intranasal Naloxone, known as Narcan, that can effectively reverse opioid overdoses. But Narcan is not typically available at the time of an overdose. A Boston VA Health Care System employee saw an opportunity to improve reaction time, by training nearly 700 Veterans, staff members and VA Police to administer Narcan. They also made Narcan readily available in automated external defibrillator cabinets placed throughout the facility so staff could access it quickly.

Pamela Bellino-Rivera, director of patient safety at the VA Boston Health Care System worked with Steve Elliot, VISN 8 chief of police, to ensure wide-spread availability of Narcan to help save lives.

Pamela Bellino-Rivera, director of patient safety at the VA Boston Health Care System worked with Steve Elliot, VISN 8 chief of police, to ensure wide-spread availability of Narcan to help save lives.

Boston VA’s Pam Bellino-Rivera submitted this practical solution and has overseen its implementation at all Boston sites – Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Brockton and the region’s outpatient clinics.

“We saw a number of events where patients were experiencing an opioid overdose,” she said. “There was a delay in administering Narcan while waiting for the ambulance or the medical team to arrive. We needed first responders to have Narcan readily available.”

The results? Since 2014, 98 Veteran lives have been saved as a result of this practice.

Bellino-Rivera’s idea is an example of how VA’s Diffusion of Excellence Initiative not only gives VA employees a forum to suggest solutions, it provides an avenue to spread the best practices from their facilities to VA medical centers across the nation.

Through the Diffusion for Excellence effort, VISN 8 was selected to implement the practices and they are in the process of implementing it across VISN 8.

VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin created the initiative during his tenure as undersecretary for Health, to identify and disseminate promising practices, as well as standardize those that promote positive outcomes for Veterans systemwide. The initiative empowers employees to share innovations and drive a supportive culture of continuous improvement.

Since its inception, VA has identified more than 1,000 practices submitted by front-line staff to address health care priorities of improving access, care coordination, employee engagement, quality and safety, and the Veteran experience.

The initiative continues to foster department-wide innovations that can quickly spread from idea to reality in VA facilities across the country not only to meet the needs of Veterans but possibly save their lives.

Posted on June 18, 2017 .

Mental health counseling

Suicide Prevention Hotline (Crisis Counseling)

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) created a Veterans Crisis Line to ensure veterans in emotional crisis have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors.Veterans, family members and friends can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press "1" to be routed to the hotline to speak to a counselor about any issue that is causing a crisis situation in their life.VA Vet Center Program (readjustment counseling)

Mental Health Illness Resources

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resources from the VA

Other Mental Health-related Resources

Military One Source health and wellnessStart Behavioral Health Providers 

The Star Behavioral Health Providers (SBHP) registry is a comprehensive resource for service members, veterans and their families to locate behavioral health professionals in their own communities who have specialized training in understanding and treating military service members and their families.

Ohio Cares 

Ohio Cares is a collaboration of state and local agencies supporting the behavioral health of returning OIF/OEF veterans and their families.

Posted on June 11, 2017 .

VA program connecting Americans with their history

Veterans Legacy Program honors those buried in national cemeteries

The Veterans Legacy Program is offering a new way for Americans connect with their history. Through the program, VA’s National Cemetery Administration is forging partnerships with academic institutions to engage students and professors alike in discovering the stories of service and sacrifice found in VA’s national cemeteries.

Dr. Amelia Lyons is leading the University of Central Florida’s team researching these stories. her students are researching Florida Veterans who fought in World War I and are interred at Florida National Cemetery. Along with Lyons, Dr. Barbara Gannon and four colleagues are teaching research skills that will help UCF students learn more about Florida history through its Veterans.

Researching Veterans who served a century ago can be challenging. Through archival research, they learn when their assigned Veteran served and when they came back. Using materials such as Census records, marriage certificates, newspapers and genealogical records, students began piecing together the lives of these Veterans. Many soldiers, sailors, and Marines gave the ultimate sacrifice in World War I, but many also came home. Students were able to assemble the Veterans’ post-War lives. Ken Holliday, an Army Veteran, even found that his WWI Veteran had a son who served in WWII, and they are both buried in the same section of Florida National Cemetery. This was not an easy discovery, as the son had changed the spelling of his last name.

Bringing college students to the national cemetery is only half of the program. On May 19, UCF students were at Florida National Cemetery with 150 seventh-graders to teach them about the Veterans who came from their community. For students who otherwise only thought about, say, World War I as “arrows on a map,” they have a new understanding of American history through Veterans. They now think about people from Florida serving in World War I and understand that Americans from every state and territory wore the uniform and contributed to the victory.

The Veterans Legacy Program is also partnering with two other universities, Black Hills State University and San Francisco State University. With each year, we hope to expand this network of partnerships so that more young people can learn how Veterans from their home state impacted world events and built communities.

NCA manages 135 national cemeteries with approximately 3.5 million Veterans interred in them. While students are researching only a small percentage of all our honored Veterans, they have a new understanding of what each gravesite marker represents. The entire cemetery, every cemetery, is full of unique American stories: women and men who changed the world.

VA’s national cemeteries are national shrines where we can gather to honor those who have served in uniform. They are also places where we connect with our community history through the Veteran experience.

Posted on June 7, 2017 .

The American Veteran: Veterans Legacy Program, adaptive sports and a Medal of Honor recipient looks back

The newest episode of VA’s The American Veteran  features stories about: a disabled Navy Veteran who learned to ski at the age of 63; how one Veteran used the GI Bill and other VA’s services to turn his life around; a Medal of Honor recipient's reflection on the Battle of Khe Sanh; and the Veterans Legacy Program, a project by VA’s National Cemetery Administration to remember and honor those buried in our national cemeteries.

Posted on June 6, 2017 .

Posted on June 6, 2017 .

VA secretary announces decision on next-generation electronic health record

Today U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin announced his decision on the next-generation electronic health record (EHR) system for the VA at a news briefing at VA headquarters in Washington.

Secretary Shulkin’s full prepared statement is below:

I am here today to announce my decision on the future of the VA’s Electronic Health Record system, otherwise known as EHR.

I wanted to say at the outset that from the day he selected me for this position, the president made clear that we’re going to do things differently for our Veterans, to include in the area of EHR.

I had said previously that I would be making a decision on our EHR by July 1st, and I am honoring that commitment today.

The health and safety of our Veterans is one of our highest national priorities.

Having a Veteran’s complete and accurate health record in a single common EHR system is critical to that care, and to improving patient safety.

Let me say at the outset that I am extremely proud of VA’s longstanding history in IT innovation and in leading the country in advancing the use of EHRs.

  • It was a group of courageous VA clinicians that began this groundbreaking work in the basements of VA’s in the 1970s that led to the system that we have today, known as the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, or VistA.
  • It has been this system that led to the incredible achievements made by VA clinicians and researchers and resulted in VA’s ability to perform as well or better than the private sector in patient safety and quality of care.

That said, our current VistA system is in need of major modernization to keep pace with the improvements in health information technology and cybersecurity, and software development is not a core competency of VA.

I said recently to Congress that I was committed to getting VA out of the software business, that I didn’t see remaining in that business as benefitting Veterans.  And, because of that, we’re making a decision to move towards a commercial off-the-shelf product.

I have not come to this decision on EHR lightly.

I have reviewed numerous studies, reports and commissions, on this topic, including the recent commission on care report.

  • I’ve spent time talking with clinicians, and I use our legacy VistA system myself as a current practicing VA physician.
  • We have consulted with Chief Information Officers from around the country, and I’ve met personally with CEO’s from leading health systems to get their own thoughts on the best next-generation EHR for VA.
  • We’ve studied reports from management consulting companies and from the GAO and the IG on VA’s IT systems.
  • I can count no fewer than 7 Blue Ribbon Commissions, and a large number of congressional hearings that have called for VA to modernize its approach to IT.

At VA, we know where almost all of our Veteran patients are going to come from — from the DoD, and for this reason, Congress has been urging the VA and DoD for at least 17 years — from all the way back in 2000 — to work more closely on EHR issues.

To date, VA and DoD have not adopted the same EHR system. Instead, VA and DoD have worked together for many years to advance EHR interoperability between their many separate applications — at the cost of several hundred millions of dollars — in an attempt to create a consistent and accurate view of individual medical record information.

While we have established interoperability between VA and DOD for key aspects of the health record, seamless care is fundamentally constrained by ever-changing information sharing standards, separate chains of command, complex governance, separate implementation schedules that must be coordinated to accommodate those changes from separate program offices that have separate funding appropriations, and a host of related complexities requiring constant lifecycle maintenance.

And the bottom line is we still don’t have the ability to trade information seamlessly for our Veteran patients and seamlessly execute a shared plan of care with smooth handoffs.

Without improved and consistently implemented national interoperability standards, VA and DoD will continue to face significant challenges if the Departments remain on two different systems.

For these reasons, I have decided that VA will adopt the same EHR system as DoD, now known as MHS GENESIS, which at its core consists of Cerner Millennium.

VA’s adoption of the same EHR system as DoD will ultimately result in all patient data residing in one common system and enable seamless care between the Departments without the manual and electronic exchange and reconciliation of data between two separate systems.

It’s time to move forward, and as Secretary I was not willing to put this decision off any longer.  When DoD went through this acquisition process in 2014 it took far too long.  The entire EHR acquisition process, starting from requirements generation until contract award, took approximately 26 months.

We simply can’t afford to wait that long when it comes to the health of our Veterans.

Because of the urgency and the critical nature of this decision, I have decided that there is a public interest exception to the requirement for full and open competition in this technology acquisition.

Accordingly, under my authority as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, I have signed what is known as a “Determination and Findings,” or D&F, that is a special form of written approval by an authorized official that is required by statute or regulation as a prerequisite to taking certain contract actions.

The D&F notes that there is a public interest exception to the requirement for full and open competition, and determines that the VA may issue a solicitation directly to Cerner Corporation for the acquisition of the EHR system currently being deployed by DoD, for deployment and transition across the VA enterprise in a manner that meets VA needs, and which will enable seamless health care to Veterans and qualified beneficiaries.

Additionally we have looked at the need for VA to adopt significant cybersecurity enhancements, and we intend to leverage the architecture, tools and processes that have already been put in place to protect DoD data, to include both physical and virtual separation from commercial clients.

This D&F action is only done in particular circumstances when the public interest demands it, and that’s clearly the case here.  Once again, for the reasons of the health and protection of our Veterans, I have decided that we can’t wait years, as DoD did in its EHR acquisition process, to get our next generation EHR in place.

Let me say what lies ahead, as this is just the beginning of the process.

  • VA has unique needs and many of those are different from the DoD.
  • For this reason, VA will not simply be adopting the identical EHR that DoD uses, but we intend to be on a similar Cerner platform.
  • VA clinicians will be very involved in how this process moves forward and in the implementation of the system.
  • In many ways VA is well ahead of DoD in clinical IT innovations and we will not discard our past work.  And our work will help DoD in turn.
  • Furthermore VA must obtain interoperability with DoD but also with our academic affiliates and community partners, many of whom are on different IT platforms.
  • Therefore we are embarking on creating something that has not been done before — that is an integrated product that, while utilizing the DoD platform, will require a meaningful integration with other vendors to create a system that serves Veterans in the best possible way.
  • This is going to take the cooperation and involvement of many companies and thought leaders, and can serve as a model for the federal government and all of health care.

Once again, I want to thank the president for his incredible commitment to helping our Veterans and his support for our team here at the VA as we undertake this important work.

This is an exciting new phase for VA, DOD, and for the country.  Our mission is too important not to get this right and we will.

Posted on June 5, 2017 .

Volunteer opportunity for veterans

The nation’s nearly 22 million veterans may not be aware of a volunteer opportunity that continues on the tradition of purpose, camaraderie and service to the country and community: becoming a volunteer firefighter. 

Why Volunteer in the Fire Service

Many veterans find joining a local fire department involves values they can uniquely appreciate, such as loyalty, honor, courage, discipline, teamwork and respect.

Plus, the need is great. Seven out of 10 firefighters and emergency responders are volunteers, and volunteer firefighters save communities nationwide an estimated $140 billion a year. However, many local departments are struggling to meet staffing needs as call volume has tripled in the last 30 years and departments’ roles in communities continue to expand. Many community members are unaware of this need. A National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) survey found 41 percent of respondents did not know that their department used volunteers and 79 percent did not know their department was looking for more volunteers. The NVFC is the leading nonprofit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS and rescue services.

How To Volunteer

Fortunately, anyone can become a volunteer firefighter—they come from all types of backgrounds and professions and encompass all ages, genders, races and ethnicities. Veterans are especially well equipped to volunteer as emergency responders, and it provides a sense of purpose, commitment, and lifesaving service to the community that few other volunteer opportunities can offer. Certain departments may have specific requirements, such as a high school degree, a physical or a background check, but when it comes down to it, volunteering as a first responder is all about having the heart and drive to make a difference where it’s needed most. And who can understand that better than a veteran?

New recruits are trained by the department. Skills to learn vary based on the department’s response requirements, but training may cover a wide array of emergency situations such as fires, emergency medical incidents, terrorist events, natural disasters, hazardous materials incidents, water rescue emergencies and other public service calls.

Where To Learn More About Becoming A Volunteer

For further information and to find a nearby fire service volunteer opportunity, visit www.MakeMeAFirefighter.org. - via NAPSI

Posted on June 4, 2017 .

Posted on June 3, 2017 .