Updated: Jun 24
Volunteering has been ingrained in America’s history since before our nation’s founding, and volunteer involvement in veteran services can allow data capture and awareness regarding program eligibility, veteran and military family vulnerability, and levels of coordination and collaboration.
Volunteers may be the first contact prospective clients and stakeholders have with providers. Thus, volunteers may influence what program(s) a veteran and his/her family may consider. It can also allow volunteers to identify, and potentially address misperceptions. Volunteers’ active listening can ensure that agencies do not lose opportunities to place veterans in programs, make agencies aware of vital adaptations, and improve understanding of local needs and interests. For example, asking whether a person served in the military rather than whether they are a veteran can reduce the likelihood an eligible veteran may fail to be considered for earned resources.
Individuals may be more comfortable initially interacting with volunteers rather than program staff. These interactions can be avenues to begin to assess veterans’ and military families’ circumstances. In addition, volunteers can help increase public understanding of service gaps. One local example of this is free transit eligibility. Multiple individuals believe that all veterans can ride Sioux Falls buses for free. However, veterans are generally required to have an ID to verify veteran status, which requires them to have a Veteran ID Card (VIC), Veteran Health ID Card (VHIC), and/or be honorably discharged.
Coordination & Collaboration
Volunteers can also be excellent referral resources, as service providers strive to reduce siloing. This is again an opportunity to actively listen, effectively, and compassionately capture data on client needs, and share that with potential service providers when placing veterans and military families.
Awareness of Volunteer Opportunities
The Helpline Center maintains this website for those interested in volunteering, and one can also enroll to receive weekly emailed volunteer updates. You call also can 211.