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BAMC volunteers fill vital role in health care mission

By Mike Dulevitz | Brooke Army Medical Center Volunteer Services | Aug. 16, 2012

JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON — Brooke Army Medical Center's health care mission is growing by leaps and bounds, and as it grows, so does the hospital's need for volunteers.

BAMC supervisors create positions and duties so that volunteers can work together with staff to meet the health care mission in their work areas.

There is no work pool at BAMC. Each volunteer has a specific purpose and function as they work various shifts, performing specific duties at the medical center.

It is this environment that gives BAMC volunteers a sense of community and belonging, said Jessica Veilleux, chief of BAMC's Office of Volunteer Services. It was this vision that drove her to create and guide the program over the past 19 years.

"People who join us to volunteer often have a compassion born out of their own life experiences," Veilleux said.

"Every hospital needs additional kind and friendly people on their health care team so the insecurities of illness or injury can be transformed into healing. Our volunteers' compassion and people skills are critical to the health care mission."

The BAMC volunteer program is for those who truly want to give back to the military and the San Antonio community at large, Veilleux said.

It's not a job to be taken lightly, she added. It is not to be used as a means to employment or a stop-gap between jobs, or a school supplement; nor is it to be used as a "required community-service" endeavor. It takes personal commitment and is selective.

It asks for a continued commitment from those who have served in all walks of career life and seek a life of service after. For those who enter the program, it is a meaningful way to give back.

It's an easy task to ask volunteers why they are here. They are almost 500 strong.

"All of the volunteers of BAMC do it for all types of reasons," said retired Chief Master Sgt. Jerry Jarvis, the ward listener coordinator for the Nursing Department.

"For me it's the pay. That's right, the pay! When you walk into a patient's room and you tell them I just stopped by to say hello, their smile is all the pay you need," Jarvis said.

The program also can be a venture for a husband and wife team whose careers of service gave way to lives of service. Bob and Joy Moore have been BAMC volunteers since 1991.

"We have not been hospital volunteers previously, but it seems the right thing to do," Joy said. "Being patients at SAMMC, volunteering keeps us informed on the workings of the hospital."

Bob, a Caremobile driver, said he volunteers for two reasons: "People need our services, and I feel that I owe it to SAMMC for the wonderful medical service that we enjoy."

Having volunteers to bolster the work force means a great deal to the command team and staff, said Col. Noel Cardenas, BAMC deputy commander for administration.

"Our BAMC volunteers are a staff multiplier as it provides a valuable resource that augments our staff with a level of expertise that we are unable to get through our civilian personnel resources," he said. "BAMC could not perform our day-to-day mission without the selfless service of our volunteer force.

"I am truly grateful to the gift that our volunteers provide, which consists of military retirees, their spouses, their family members or even individuals from the San Antonio community who love to give back to Army Medicine by serving selflessly; my sincere thanks to all of our volunteers for being a part of the BAMC Team," the colonel added.

Volunteers are an integral part of Brooke Army Medical Center and are involved in every aspect of the health care mission, said Cindy Burke, social worker for the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit.

"They not only support our staff in providing assistance in clerical duties and as couriers throughout the hospital, but they are also valuable in visiting with our patients who are in our clinic for long periods of time receiving blood transfusions or IV fluids.

"They seek ways to make our patients as comfortable as possible whether it's getting a warm blanket or pillow for them or picking something up for them to eat from the grab and go," Burke said.

Volunteer positions include - but are not limited to - caremobile drivers; information desk greeters; BAMC Ambassadors; patient transport aides; ward clerk positions; patient library aides; outpatient, inpatient and release of information records clerks; dermatology clinic greeters; radiology clerks; pediatric gastroenterology and neurology filing clerks; and occupational health clerks.

For more information on becoming a BAMC volunteer, call 210-916-5388 or 210-916-5381.