Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
Giving Back a Great Feeling for VA Volunteer
Marine Corps Veteran Charlie O’Connell admits he probably volunteers at the Ernest Childers VA Outpatient Clinic in Tulsa for selfish reasons.
“It gives you a good feeling,” said O’Connell, who served in Vietnam for 13 months during 1965 to 1967. “I think sometimes I’m kind of selfish because it makes me feel better. I just really enjoy helping others.”
Around five years ago, O’Connell was at the Tulsa Clinic for an appointment and learned about volunteer opportunities with VA.
“I thought ‘boy, that sounds good’ because I had quite a bit of time on my hands,” said O’Connell, who is now retired after working as an aircraft mechanic, firefighter and cook.
O’Connell began volunteering as a driver for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Transportation Network, which involved picking up Veterans at their home and giving them transportation to and from their VA appointments.
For the past two years, O’Connell has volunteered at the Tulsa Clinic Information Desk where he greets Veterans, helps answer questions and helps Veterans with wheelchairs.
He typically volunteers six days a week for a total of 30 hours. That includes Saturday mornings where he faithfully comes in at 8 a.m. to make coffee for Veterans, and stays three to four hours to help answer questions.
“I see something that needs to be done and I’ll try to take care of it or find somebody to take care of it,” said O’Connell. “I don’t have a lot of money to donate, so I guess I can donate my time.”
His selfless dedication to serving his fellow Veterans hasn’t gone unnoticed by the VA employees he works alongside.
“I’m really impressed that he comes in on Saturday,” said Michael Bruce, Staff Assistant at the Tulsa Clinic. “He makes sure the coffee room is open and the Veterans who come in for Saturday appointments have coffee to drink. He’s just an asset to have.”
Thankfully, there are many others like Charlie. In fact, there are more than 290 volunteers who donate their time to serve Veterans at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center and our outpatient clinics.
“Our volunteers are a critical part of the VA,” said Dax Allcorn, Acting Chief of Voluntary Service. “They help ensure our Veterans receive the best care possible. We could not complete our mission without them.”
During National Volunteer Week, which is April 12-18, we ask Veterans, VA staff and the public to take a moment and say thank you to these special men and women.
We also want to encourage others to consider giving back as a VA volunteer. Volunteers can perform a number of services, and a volunteer's talents are closely matched with one of our many assignments. No medical experience is necessary.
To learn more, contact our Voluntary Service Office at 918-577-3358 or 918-577-3622.