Overview

Our military personnel voluntarily act as the protectors of our nations, standing on the front lines while keeping us safe behind them.

The Knights of Columbus acknowledges this unselfish act of patriotism by promoting the “Serving Those Who Served” program. There are 26 million U.S, veterans and hundreds of thousands of men and women currently serving in the military. Meeting the needs of such a large population is the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs, which operates more than 1,000 facilities throughout the United States, ranging from full-service hospitals to nursing homes and home-care programs.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) Program is the vehicle that the Knights of Columbus uses in the Serving Those Who Served program. The Vice President for Fraternal Services has oversight of the VAVS program. The program is directed and managed by the Assistant for Military and Veterans Affairs who also serves as the National VAVS Representative to the VAVS National Advisory Committee (NAC). The K of C VAVS program is executed through the Fourth Degree chain of command through the U.S. Vice Supreme Masters and District Masters. Under the program, a Knight of Columbus is certified as a VAVS representative or deputy representative at a VA medical center. Our certified representatives and deputy representatives attend hospital meetings and organize efforts for K of C volunteers.

The Knights of Columbus currently has VAVS representatives at almost every VA medical center (VAMC) and many clinics in the United States. There is one certified representative and, up to, three deputy representatives from the Knights of Columbus at these VAMCs. Representatives recruit and manage K of C VAVS volunteers in developing activities and programs that target the most essential needs of the patients.

In the United States, the VA hospitals, clinics and facilities need all types of volunteer services – from program planning to visiting veterans. For more information on this outstanding program, please contact your Fourth Degree district master, the Voluntary Service Chief at the nearest VA Medical center, or use this  form.

The philosophy behind “Serving Those Who Served” is simple:  the men and women of the Armed Forces didn’t let the Nation down on the battlefield, and the Knights of Columbus will not let these veterans down now.

A Million and One Reasons to Volunteer

This VA Voluntary Service (VAVS) video, through brief vignettes, highlights individual VAVS volunteers and volunteer programs.

It tells the VAVS story through the eyes of those impacting the lives of Veterans each day.

It richly showcases a number of innovative volunteer assignments being carried out by dedicated VAVS volunteers of various ages and walks-of-life.

This DVD should be utilized to communicate the VAVS story throughout the Order of the Knights of Columbus.

It is an invaluable recruitment tool as we continually seek to attract K of C volunteers to serve our nation’s heroes.

A copy will be sent to all U.S. vice supreme masters, district masters, and our VAVS representatives and deputy representatives.

Action Steps

When our country needed them our veterans answered the call to serve.

Now Knights are being called to serve our veterans through a new program: “Serving Those Who Served.”

Our goal is to have an active corps of Knights serving as volunteers at every Veterans Administration medical facility in the nation.

Volunteers are needed at veterans medical facilities on a regular basis. Through the “Serving Those Who Served” program councils and assemblies are asked to form a corps of volunteers to meet the needs of our veterans on an ongoing basis.

Just some volunteer opportunities for Knights include:

  • Coordinating volunteer activities – matching the volunteers available with the needs of hospitalized veterans
  • Supporting the Catholic chaplains in their ministry of spiritual support to our Catholic patients
  • Providing reception and information services – working in reception areas to provide information to visitors
  • Providing transportation for veterans.
  • Helping make patients comfortable by distributing toiletries, sweaters and other items that help make veterans more comfortable
  • Providing “Pet Therapy” – bringing pets to facility to interact with the veterans at appropriate places and times
  • Vocational rehabilitation – helping or providing the opportunity for veterans to participate in job skills programs
  • Arts and crafts – providing materials and programs that help veterans use artistic and creative skills
  • Patient visiting
  • Patient check-in and patient escort
  • Offering holiday celebrations – organizing parties for veterans
  • Taking patients to ball games or performances when possible
  • Hosting picnics, parties or recreation outings

Upon discharge from the VA facility some veterans find they have lost touch with friends and family. They need human companionship and a friendly, dependable K of C volunteer might be “just what the doctor ordered.”

Discharged veterans need compassionate, caring and committed individuals to:

  • Help them access community events and services
  • Share their time by visiting them, listening to them and talking with them
  • Note changes in the patient’s condition and inform the healthcare team
  • Remember them on birthdays, holidays and other special occasions.

Sometimes councils and assemblies are not located close enough to a veterans medical facility to make regular efforts practical. However, they may still participate in and make a valuable contribution to the “Serving Those Who Served” program.

The possibilities are limited only by the imagination and the needs of the veterans. For instance:

  • Organize a drive to collect clothing, coats, gloves, pajamas, robes, toiletries, etc. for veterans
  • Organize program to provide rosaries, Bibles, Catholic religious literature, and Chapel items like Mass bells, Easter candle holders, altar lines
  • Volunteer as Eucharistic Ministers to take Communion to bed patients
  • Collecting or developing a plan to buy television sets, VCRs, DVD players or stereo equipment to donate for use in medical facility common areas
  • Collect video and audio tapes, books, DVD and CDs for the facility
  • Develop a plan to donate personal computers and computer programs, printers (as well paper and ink) for use by veterans
  • Travel to a VA facility to put on a special program or entertainment for patients
  • Plan and conduct a special outing, if possible, for veterans such as a picnic, a trip to the ball park or a special community event
  • Plan a special holiday event and travel to the facility to conduct it for the veterans or adopt veterans at a distant facility and remember them regularly with cards and letters.


Support Materials