Hampton VA Medical Center
Southern Hospitality at Hampton VAMC
Most mornings, Veteran patients are greeted at the Hampton VA Medical Center (VAMC) Centralized Check-In with true southern hospitality from a Virginia native, Melvin Williams. Williams has volunteered as the Hampton VAMC concierge for the past five years, greeting Veteran patients rain or shine.
A tall, well-dressed gentleman with a heavy southern drawl, Williams welcomes people with a smile and asks them how he may help. Williams, an airborne infantry Army Veteran, retired from the VA after 18 years. For the past five years, he has spent many mornings volunteering at the medical center helping Veterans find their way and, when possible, answering questions about VA benefits.
“I can see it in their face when they walk through the door,” Williams said. “So many Vets seem lost when they get here. Hampton can be a maze ~ but it’s my job to let them know that they are welcome and help them to find their way around.”
Centralized Check-In bustles with people coming and going for appointments, applying for VA benefits and looking for information. Hampton can have as many as 1,900 patient encounters daily.
He said that many Vets who come through the revolving doors at the outpatient services area say, “This is my first time here, where do I go?”
Williams is one of many selfless volunteers at the Hampton VAMC. Volunteers play a vital role at the VA. Each year, volunteers are recognized during the VA’s National Volunteer Week, this year recognized April 15-21. Celebrations across the nation thank the tireless efforts of thousands of dedicated volunteers.
“Our volunteers perform countless acts of service and are one of our most valuable assets,” said Judith Curtis, chief of Voluntary Services at the Hampton VAMC. “We have over 400 volunteers at Hampton and National Volunteer Week is the ideal time to honor them for their tremendous contributions.”
The 2012 annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon will thank the team of volunteers who collectively have donated over 38,000 hours to serve Veterans at the facility and its outpatient clinics. This year, the Hampton VAMC volunteer celebration will be at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on April 17.
National Volunteer Week began in 1974 when President Richard Nixon signed an executive order establishing an annual celebration of volunteering. Every president since has signed a proclamation promoting the week. For information about becoming a VA volunteer, please call (757) 722-9961, extension 3124.