VA Maryland Health Care System Honors More than 1,000 Volunteers During National Volunteer Week

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VA Maryland Health Care System honors its volunteers during National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 18 to 24. In fiscal year 2009, nearly 1,000 volunteers devoted more than 96,000, worth more than $1.1 million, and this year, 30 --including adults and teens--are being recognized with the prestigious President's Volunteer Service Award.

We can all show our gratitude and support to Maryland’s Service men and women by volunteering for Veterans during National Volunteer Week

During National Volunteer Week - April 18-24 - Veterans Affairs (VA) Maryland Health Care System plans activities and recognition banquets to honor the nearly 1,000 community volunteers. In fiscal year 2009, volunteers devoted more 96,000 hours worth more than $1.1 million to honoring and serving Maryland’s Veterans at three VA inpatient facilities and five community based outpatient clinics throughout the state. This year, more than 30 volunteers—including adults and teens—are being honored with the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service and other awards, a small way to recognize and thank those indefatigable men and women serving Maryland’s Veterans.

“Veterans gave their best for our nation. We have an obligation to honor and respect their service, and volunteers fulfill that obligation daily,” said Dennis H. Smith, director of the VA Maryland Health Care System. “They play a crucial role in the care Veterans receive at VA facilities, not only here in Maryland, but across the country.”

The President’s Volunteer Service Award recognizes individuals, families, and groups that have achieved a certain standard—measured by the number of hours served determined by age group over a 12-month period. At the Gold Level, children ages five to 14 must have accrued 100 or more hours; young adults 250 or more hours, adults, 500 or more hours and families and groups, 1,000 or more hours. At the Silver Level, children ages five to 14, 75-99 hours; young adults 175-249 hours, adults, 250 to 299 hours, and families and groups, 500 to 999 hours, while at the bronze level, children five to 14 must have worked 50 to 74 hours. Young adults earning a bronze level have served 100- 174 hours, adults, 100 to 249 hours and families and groups, 200 to 499 hours.

“Volunteers offer a link to the community, remind Veterans that their service has not been forgotten, and often provide the only visits for some Veterans whose families are distant or non-existent,” said Susan Kern, program manager for Voluntary Service. “Volunteers work in inpatient units, at community living facilities, in pharmacies, and work as drivers who help bring patients to and from medical appointments. Some participate in recreational activities, birthday celebrations or holiday events, and others simply sit and visit with Veterans, helping improve their overall quality of life.”

Adults being honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for 4,000 or more volunteer hours include:

  •     Kenneth Guinther, of Darlinggon, Md, who volunteers as a Disabled American Veterans (DAV) driver at the Perry Point VA Medical Center;
  •     Michael “Doc” Byrnes, of Randallstown, Md, who volunteers as a clerical worker at the Baltimore VA Medical Center;
  •     Samuel McDowell, of Baltimore, who serves as the Baltimore VA Medical Center in the Acquisitions and Material Management Service; and
  •     Mary Lou Broch, who volunteers at the Loch Raven VA Community Living and Rehabilitation Center.

Young adults receiving gold, silver, and bronze level President’s Volunteer Service Awards include:

Gold:

  •     Jessica Lathan, a Baltimore resident and student at W.E.B. Dubois High School, who volunteers at the Loch Raven VA Community Living and Rehabilitation Center;
  •     Drew Jones, of Kirkwood, Pa., a student at Solanco High School, who volunteers at Perry Point VA Medical Center;
  •     Andrew Kern, a Bel Air, Md., resident and student at Harford Technical School, who volunteers at Perry Point VA Medical Center;
  •     Ashleigh Brown, of Bowie, Md., and volunteers at the Baltimore VA Medical Center
  •     Shannon Hall, a Baltimore resident and student at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, who volunteers at the Baltimore VA Medical Center
  •     John Sigler, who lives in Westminster, Md., and a student at Windsor Mill High School, who volunteers at the Baltimore VA Medical Center;

Silver:

  •     Taylor Cammon of Baltimore, and a student at Bryn Mar School, who volunteers at the Loch Raven VA Community Living and Rehabilitation Center;
  •     Jessie Trenton, a Bel Air, Md., resident and a student at Bel Air High School, who volunteers at the Perry Point VA Medical Center;
  •     Diego Esmolo, a resident in Elkridge, Md., a student at Long Beach High School, who volunteers at the Baltimore VA Medical Center;
  •     Errol Davis, of Baltimore, a student at Woodlawn High School who volunteers at the Baltimore VA Medical Center;
  •     Randall Bannon, a Perryville, Md,. resident who volunteers at the Perry Point VA Medical Center

Bronze:

  •     Kristina Migaleddi of Colora, Md., and a student at Rising Sun High School, who volunteers at the Perry Point VA Medical Center;
  •     Jessica Bird of Port Deposit, Md., who is a student at Cecil County School of Technology and a volunteer at the Perry Point VA Medical Center;
  •     Danielle Pierce, a resident of Northeast, Md., and a student at Elkton High School, who volunteers with the Perry Point VA Medical Center;
  •     Kenneth Harris , a Baltimore resident and a student at Catonsville High, who volunteers at the Perry Point VA Medical Center;
  •     Zakery Tretton, a Bel Air, Md., resident and a student at Bel Air High School, who volunteers at the Perry Point VA Medical Center;
  •     Brian Pierce a resident of Rising Sun, Md., who volunteers at the Perry Point VA Medical Center;
  •     Emily Ritter, who is attending an out of state boarding school and who volunteers at thje Perry Point VA Medical Center;
  •     Anneke Gerlak, a Baltimore resident and a student at St. Paul School for Girls;
  •     Atila Libutsi, a resident in Owings Mills, Md., who volunteers at the Baltimore VA Medical Center;
  •     Cara Marshall, a Columbia, Md., resident and a student at Seaton Keogh High School, who volunteers at the Baltimore VA Medical Center;
  •     Jacob McNeill, a Baltimore resident, who volunteers at the Baltimore VA Medical Center;
  •     Shannon McNeill, a Baltimore resident, who volunteers at the Baltimore VA Medical Center
  •     Andrea Penaloza, a resident of Elkridge, Md., and a student at St. Vincent Pallotti High School, who volunteers at the Baltimore VA Medical Center;
  •     Rachel Reindorf, a Bowie, Md., resident and a student at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, who volunteers at the Baltimore VA Medical Center.

National Volunteer Week is a good time to learn about volunteer opportunities within the VA Maryland Health Care System. Call 1-800-463-6295, ext. 5505 or go to: http://www.maryland.va.gov/MARYLAND/giving/volunteer_give.asp

“We can all show our gratitude and support to Maryland’s Service men and women by volunteering for Veterans during National Volunteer Week,” Smith said.

The VA Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) provides a broad spectrum of medical, surgical, rehabilitative, mental health and outpatient care to veterans at two medical centers, one community living & rehabilitation center and five outpatient clinics located throughout the state. More than 52,000 veterans from various generations receive care from the VAHMCS annually. Nationally recognized for its state-of-the-art technology and quality patient care, the VAHMCS is proud of its reputation as a leader in veterans’ health care, research and education. It costs nothing for Veterans to enroll for health care with the VA Maryland Health Care System and it could be one of the more important things a Veteran can do. For information about VA health care eligibility and enrollment or how to apply for a VA medical care hardship to avoid future copayments for VA health care, interested Veterans are urged to call the Enrollment Center for the VA Maryland Health Care System, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1-800-463-6295, ext. 7324 or visit http://www.maryland.va.gov.

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Rosalia Scalia
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