Volunteers

There are many avenues for individuals to volunteer:

  • DAV’s Transportation Program
  • Veterans Administration Voluntary Services (VAVS)
  • Local Veterans Assistance Programs (LVAP)
  • Homeless Veterans Initiatives known as Stand Downs
  • Claims assistance

There are other means of volunteering to help veterans that are as varied as the imagination.

DAV’s Transportation Program provides disabled veterans with free rides from their homes to appointments at one of our VA medical centers. All of our van drivers are volunteers, and to-date they have logged over 520,000 hours of transportation services. We are always on the lookout for new drivers who share our commitment to veterans.

Our VAVS is second only to our transportation program. On the average we have approximately 250 volunteers registered at our 5 VA medical centers in Massachusetts. Yearly they contribute 25,000 hours of service to hospitalized veterans, with a cost savings to the VA of approximately $1,000,000 in Massachusetts alone. Their duties include escorting veterans to and from their rooms for tests, feeding, reading, personal hygiene, visiting and comforting those who have no family.

Outside of the VA health care system are countless numbers of veterans who need help with a variety of tasks, like yard work, grocery shopping, cleaning and travel to a personal physician. They can receive necessary assistance from volunteers with the DAV’s LVAP program. In addition, the program gives volunteers recognition for their services both on a national and state level, and for young volunteers there is the chance for scholarships. It also teaches the youth about service to country and the value and contributions of veterans.

DAV provides claims assistance at Stand Downs, 1-to-3 day events that provide homeless veterans with services such as food, clothing, health screenings, and benefits counseling. We also work with other agencies to help veterans obtain employment, register for VA health care, and address homelessness. In some cases we provide transportation for immediate care.

At all of our VA medical centers we have Department Service Officers (DSO) who provides free claims assistance in applying for VA and State benefits. At the local level each chapter has a service officer who does the same claims assistance. For 93 years this is the backbone of DAV, helping veterans navigate through the VA’s claims processing.

Volunteers that embrace the DAV’s mission statement of “fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served” have honored millions of disabled veterans for their service. This sets the DAV apart from most service organizations.

DAV fully supports Senator Rush's legislation to make the Secretary of Veteran Services a cabinet level position.
It is unfortunate that the Secretary of Veteran Services is really a Secretary in name only answering to the Secretary of HHS and not the Governor.
Our Veterans deserve a seat at the table communicating directly with the Governor. Thank you Senator Rush for filing this important legislation.Today, I filed legislation to place the Secretary of Veterans’ Services as part of the Governor’s cabinet; therefore, responsible for reporting directly to the Governor. Currently the “Secretary” reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, not the Governor, which is a total disservice to our states almost 400,000 Veterans!

This legislation will ensure that the voices of Massachusetts veterans, our active and reserve service members and their families are heard loud and clear!
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The DAV is saddened and disappointed by yesterdays report on the tragedy at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home.

DAV hopes this tragedy is the catalyst for real change both within the Soldiers' homes system and within the Department of Veteran Services. Both the soldiers' home system and DVS are in need of reform and modernization.

DAV has officially requested that the House and Senate create a special joint committee to examine the way in which the Commonwealth cares for older Veterans. We have asked that this committee be granted subpoena power for both records and testimony. DAV urges it be properly staffed with investigators and experts to conduct a broad and in depth examination of the entire soldiers' home system including whether this system should continue in its current form. Legislative recommendations should be made at the conclusion of the investigation.

DAV is encouraged that the Governor will be announcing reforms. We urge his administration to take a deep and broad look at our veterans services systems with the goal of systematic change and improvement. We urge that the selection of the next Secretary of Veteran Services will be conducted with full transparency and with input from Veteran advocates.

DAV feels that a systems review of this magnitude is long overdue. There have been many attempts to make legislative changes to this system over the years. However without a full and detailed understanding of the current needs and holes in services no meaningful change is possible. This is a serious public health issue. We as a Commonwealth owe it to our most vulnerable and honorable citizens to do better.

This oversight review, if conducted under the proper legal authority, staffing and funding will lay out a path to reform. All of the Commonwealth’s veterans deserve to feel confident that if they one day become a resident of a state-run veteran care facility that they will flourish and not perish. It will require all of us to take a hard look at how we serve our elderly Veterans. It will be difficult but we must have the courage to do better for these men and women.
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