17 April 2015

National Volunteer Appreciation Week: Are You a Volunteer?

Yes, we all serve(d) in an all-volunteer military and, for that, your service is very much appreciated (by most of the country, at least)!  However, you are compensated for your time in uniform, so it’s more like a quasi-volunteer.  You “volunteered” to protect and defend the Constitution, you “volunteered” to be deployed to remote locations, you “volunteered” to give your life - and some of you did just that.  Thank you to all of our past and current military “volunteers!”

For brevity, we won’t get into “volun-told.”  Someone else can handle that Command Post article!

The volunteering I want to talk about is the description most of us think of when considering that word - freely offering to do something.  Guess what?  Volunteering is very abundant in the United States! One in four Americans volunteer in some capacity through organizations.  Whether it’s serving meals at a mobile kitchen for the homeless, helping at a local animal shelter, or judging the local spelling bee, there are a variety of ways for people to serve our communities.

In case you weren’t aware (and I’m guessing that most of you weren’t aware!), April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month.  As a leader in a national nonprofit organization, I fully recognize that volunteers are essential to the work of my organization and hundreds of thousands of other organizations that seek to serve our communities.

Just in the military and veteran space, there are over 40,000 nonprofits with the term “military” or “veteran” somewhere in their mission or vision statement.  That’s a lot of organizations that need volunteers!  You can look at the picture on this post from volunteeringamerica.gov to see the different types of organizations that our volunteers serve at.

So how actively does our military/veteran population serve as volunteers?  Veterans serve at about a 1% higher rate than the rest of the population.  More veterans serve in Utah than any state in the Union.  Conversely, fewer veterans serve in Louisiana, but that’s consistent with Louisiana’s overall volunteer rate.

All of this leads to a question for our RallyPoint community: where do you volunteer?  More importantly, why do you volunteer there?  More often than not, we serve for an organization that has impacted us in some capacity.  Some of you serve at your nearby Fisher House Foundation because they were there for you when you - or a family member - were injured.  Some of you volunteer at veteran hiring fairs to help your comrades get the jobs they need and translate their résumés into civilian language.  Some of you feel like you’ve given enough to the military and shy away from any volunteer activities associated with those in uniform, and choose other paths instead.

Regardless of where you serve - thank you for serving!  Selfless service is not only an admirable trait while in uniform; it’s appreciated when you take off your uniform as well.

Post your comments below…it would be great to hear how our military population serves their country AND their community!

Finally, if you want an excellent resource, check out Volunteering and Civic Life in America: http://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov.

Comment below or start the conversation here and connect within the military community.

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