DES MOINES, Iowa — At the Des Moines Veterans Administration Health system there are patients by the thousands. To take care of all in the inpatients and outpatients it takes a lot of volunteers, just over 300 people.
“Basically we touch every aspect of the hospital from patient services to escorting patients to running labs to delivering mail,” said Shawn Hippen, the Chief of Voluntary Outreach at the Des Moines VA.
“One of the jobs were always in need we called our patient escort so you’ll see them walk through the hospital with a blue vest on, will actually pick up patients in the wheelchairs and take them there to their appointments and get them from A to B," said Hippen.
There are many different jobs, including sending letters to veterans to remind them of upcoming appointments, giving directions around the huge Des Moines complex, and handing out popcorn or keeping the coffee stations stocked.
“I take veterans that are in wheelchairs take them around from one appointment to the other, or take somebody to get x-rays,” said Jim Roth, a veteran himself and volunteer, from Waukee. “Getting the stories back from the veterans sometimes you will be with World War II veteran which aren’t too many of them left anymore, and they’ll tell you stories from back then.”
“I do it because number one, it makes me feel good number two, the veterans deserve it,” said John Mulholland, a veteran and volunteer from Ankeny. “I’m a veteran but some of these guys of seen a lot more action than I have, I was on the ship we are in Vietnam we set off the coast 10 miles or so.”
When it comes to volunteering your time, the VA will take people with any skill or ability. They also work to find a time which works for volunteers to give of their time.
We have non-veterans volunteers that just want to give back, our whole volunteer pool is just amazing on what we do,” said Hippen. “They can call the VA to Central Iowa Hospital they can stop at the information desk they can definitely direct them to my office.”
Prospective Volunteer information can be found here.