On May 26-28 I attended the 75th VAVS National Advisory Committee Meeting and Conference virtually via WebEx. I hope some of you were able to watch at least some of the presentations. It was different from the usual in-person event and more accessible. Many aspects of the NAC were discussed. VA Secretary Denis McDonough addressed the conference and answered questions. He set out ambitious goals.
Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service has been renamed the Center for Development and Civic Engagement. The VA hopes the new title will bring in more nonprofit and professional groups. VAVS volunteers are aging, and the VA needs to develop new contacts beyond the traditional sources. VAVS will still be doing the same role, but its new name will be CDCE/VAVS.
In Pennsylvania we recently held the first state council meeting since 2019. It has been a difficult year for all of us. Our Representatives, Deputies, and volunteers have missed their person-to-person veteran contacts. With the VA shutting down normal operations and with limited access in most hospitals, volunteers were not on campus. Things are beginning to open up, and our volunteers soon will be able to return.
The need for Representatives and Deputies is even greater now. The VAVS program needs them to lead and report to their chapters and state councils about the needs of patient-veterans. The VA fiscal year ends September 30, and our Representatives and Deputies should attend the fourth-quarter meetings. These meetings keep VVA members informed about what’s happening at the VA, and they maintain our active status at the VAMCs and with the VA’s Central Office.
During the pandemic our numbers of volunteers and attendance at meetings were very low. Because of that, the VA froze our status for a year, but that ends September 30. I believe many of these numbers are inaccurate. Our Reps should do their Annual Joint Reviews and talk to their Volunteer Chiefs to make any adjustments.
I will be working to clarify and correct the counts, but I need your help. Let’s work to continue the fine volunteer work we do at the VAMCs and VA Clinics. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org