Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How do I sign up to volunteer?
- At what age may I begin volunteering?
- Do I have to work with sick people?
- Why do I need to have health screenings?
- What is HIPAA and why should I care?
- All I want to do is push the library cart around. Do I have to have a background check?
- I've been volunteering for a while now. How do I involve my family and friends?
- I'm looking for a paying job. Will volunteering help me get hired by VA?
- Can't I just show up and visit with patients? Why do I have to be registered?
- I'm required to do a minimum number of hours of community service. Is it possible to get a certificate or letter of verification?
- I have a very gentle Labrador retriever. Can I bring him to visit the patients?
Online: Click on 'Volunteer or Donate'. This will take you to a web form page. Complete each field and then click the 'Submit' button. An email is generated to the VA Voluntary Service Program Manager in your area. Once the email is received, someone from the local VA will contact you, either by phone or email.your choice, to provide you with further information and to possibly set up an appointment for an interview.
In person: Contact your local VA Medical Center's Voluntary Service Office (click here for VA directory). Tell them of your interest in volunteering. An appointment will be scheduled for you to come in to tour the facility and learn more about the many ways to serve America 's heroes. Return to Top
The age to begin volunteering in a medical facility differs at each hospital. Some hospitals are long-term care facilities while others deal with more acute care of veterans. Also, each state has differing laws regarding youth and employment/volunteering.
In other areas such as national cemeteries, there is no minimum age to volunteer.
To find out the specifics for your area contact your local VA Voluntary Service Program Manager through the Volunteer NOW page. Return to Top
The VA health care system is varied. Not all of our facilities are hospitals. Some locations are outpatient clinics and others are readjustment counseling centers. Even in a hospital you may not need to work directly with patients.
You may also have an opportunity to volunteer at one of VA's Regional Offices where veterans benefit claims are processed. Or, there may be a national cemetery near you that needs assistance. There are also opportunities for administrative assistance in offices throughout the VA system. Return to Top
The safety of veterans under our care is our primary duty. To ensure that they, and you as a volunteer in the VAVS program, are safe from contagions, each potential volunteer must receive certain health screenings. Volunteer opportunities and different VA facilities will require varied types of screenings. For those interested in being volunteer drivers, a full physical is required. Check with your local VAVS Program Manager for specific requirements. Return to Top
Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996
HIPAA was enacted by the Federal government on August 21, 1996. The intent of the law is to assure health insurance portability, reduce healthcare fraud and abuse, guarantee security and privacy of health information, and enforce standards for health information.
In plain language, HIPAA works to protect veterans' information. Whether that information deals with benefits, health care, etc. it is protected under Federal law. As a volunteer you will receive training on HIPAA that will be documented for your official volunteer file. Return to Top
Depending on the volunteer assignment you may need to go through at least a minimum background check. This may be as simple as a fingerprint check or as detailed as a full background check. Your volunteer assignment will determine the extent of the process. Again, our primary responsibility is the safety of our veterans. Return to Top
VAVS encourages family volunteering. Contact your local VAVS Program Manager to discuss potential projects for your family and friends. Return to Top
Simply stated, no. VAVS volunteers are to supplement to the work of VA paid staff. However, being a volunteer looks great on a resume. Plus, you'll get much needed, 'real-world' experience by volunteering on a regular basis. Return to Top
VAVS volunteers are registered in our Voluntary Service System (VSS) timekeeping package. This allows each volunteer to have their time recorded for many different reasons. It also provides protection from lawsuits should something happen during the course of your assignment. Volunteers who are 'acting under the scope of their assignment' are protected by the Federal Tort Claims Act.
The same holds true if you are injured on your volunteer assignment while 'acting under the scope of your assignment'. You are eligible to receive treatment and possibly worker's compensation claims. Return to Top
10. I'm required to do a minimum number of hours of community service. Is it possible to get a certificate or letter of verification?
If accepted as a VAVS volunteer, your hours will be recorded in the Voluntary Service System timekeeping package. At the point when you need verification of your hours or a letter of reference, just let your local VAVS office know and they will be glad to oblige. Return to Top
Pets who visit patients in a medical setting are required to be certified by through an official pet therapy certification program. Your sweet Lab may be very docile and loving, but a strange surrounding such as a hospital with all the activity and unique smells could cause him to behave erratically. Please call your local VAVS program office for further information. Return to Top