Serving Veterans: Just DO IT

As Lodge Veterans Chair for Cynthiana, Ky., Lodge No. 438 and Voluntary Service Representative at the Lexington VA Medical Center, Brian Kinney is normally a very busy man.

Every month, Kinney coordinates support for the veterans at the VA by arranging special meals, bringing musicians into the hospital for entertainment, hosting VA residents at the Lodge for dinner as well as buying needed supplies like reading glasses, coffee and snacks, and more.

Kinney posing with boxes of sweatsuits he delivered to the VA.

He also spends hours each week escorting veterans to their appointments, offering directions around the VA campus, and sitting with veterans while they wait for appointments.

Kinney, who normally visits the VA Medical Center anywhere between 8 and 12 times each month, has had to stay home the past few months and wait until volunteers are cleared to visit the facility again.

Now that he has some extra time on his hands, we reached out to Kinney to ask him what makes a successful volunteer.

Consider your strengths:

“The reason I volunteer at a VA is because I have a lot in common with the patients coming in for appointments. I understand what they might be going through and they feel comfortable talking to a fellow veteran.”

“They like telling some of their stories and it makes them happy because they don’t have to explain what they are talking about while sharing.”

Do what you love:

“I think the most important thing about volunteering is you have to enjoy what you are doing and who you are helping. I enjoy volunteering at the Lexington VA Medical Center because it gives me a purpose and something to do after I retired from the service and a civilian job.”

Kinney delivering gift boxes and visiting with patients this past Christmas.

Why he knows it is worth it:

“We help the veterans feel that someone cares by providing help to their appointments, the information they need to get there, or just being a listening ear to their stories. It makes them feel that someone cares and appreciates what they have done for their country.”

What he gets from the experience:

“We always get THANK YOUS from both veterans and the VA staff which gives me a warm feeling and makes me feel that I am making a difference in their lives.”

Recommendations to other Elks:

“I would volunteer no matter what, but I am glad to get help from the Elks in providing for my fellow veterans.”

“If you want to volunteer, you need to decide what you enjoy doing and then DO IT.”