Memorial Day is a day to pay homage to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Though many decide to have cookouts and parties to spend the day, however there is a way to give remember those who didn’t come home. This Memorial Day consider volunteering as a unique and special way to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
In particular, consider volunteering with other veterans in your local community who could benefit from assistance, connection and companionship.
Memorial Day is a holiday that is held in observance every year in May for all the men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. This day of remembrance was established after the Civil War to acknowledge all those died while fighting in the Civil War. By the 1900s, the holiday had been extended to honor all those who died while in service to the military forces.
Ramona Cook of Woonsocket, Rhode Island is one of three recipients of the 2014 Jefferson Award for Public Service. The Jefferson Award for Public Service honors those individuals who do extraordinary things in their community to improve the lives of others. Cook is the founding director of the Rhode Island Military Organization and has worked extensively to help support men and woman in all branches of the military and their families. Cook has been a principle player in organizing volunteer programs that work with, and benefit, various veteran organizations.
Cook agrees that volunteering on Memorial Day, and beyond, is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate those who have, and who currently are, serving our country. Cook emphasizes that service men and women looking to volunteer do not need to wait until they transition to civilian life to begin volunteering. Cook explains that looking for a way to volunteer can begin while you are still on active duty and is a great way to extend your mission of service even after you have transitioned to civilian life. Cook says that “finding your area of interest” is a great first step when considering volunteerism. “If you like talking with others and hearing their stories,” Cook said “then consider visiting a VA Hospital.”
Once you decide upon an area of interest, there are plenty of opportunities to give back and to utilize your talents. Cook talked of the fact that “all volunteers are needed and valued as so much help is needed.” There are plenty of opportunities, depending on your interest or skill set to do just that. Cook went on to discuss organizations like Toys for Tots, working with the Boy Scouts of America, visiting VA Hospitals, Operation Stand Down and many more organizations that could benefit from volunteers, especially veteran volunteers. Cook emphasized that military personnel are fantastic leaders and that this can be a huge benefit when volunteering.
The importance of veterans volunteering with other veterans is a very important piece to the puzzle. Cook explained that she has seen “a veteran give another veteran a particular look or gesture that only another veteran will understand.” That connection, that shared experience is there, and can make all the difference when working with veterans.
As Cook put it “do what your soul tells you to do” and you won’t go wrong in trying to find a place to volunteer. So this Memorial Day, as you contemplate what the holiday means specifically to you, consider making that connection to other veterans in your local community. It might amaze you not only what others will gain from your service, but what you might gain as well.