Some volunteer assignments present more difficult challenges. For Oakmont native Larry Brown, 71, working with dementia patients at VA Pittsburgh's H. J. Heinz campus, is a labor of love and service.
"When I retired, I thought it would be a great way of giving back," says Brown, an Air Force Veteran. "I help the Vets to break up the monotony of sitting there and staring out the window. I only wish I could come more often."
Brown says he plays cards with Veterans, escorts them to the Patriot Retail Store in the facility, and every other Thursday he accompanies them to the local Wal-Mart.
"Some of the Veterans I work with were here when I started about eight years ago," Brown says. "Some of them don't really know where they are. When I think about it, I figure I could be here one day as well."
Prior to volunteering, Brown was a service manager for Shaull Equipment for 31 years. In his spare time, he has been rebuilding an old farmhouse in Elk County.
Recreation Assistant Joe Binnix said Brown is one of those special people who make the volunteer program so valuable to VA Pittsburgh's Veterans.
"He's a very conscientious and caring individual, and the Veterans love being with him," says Binnix. "He's a very patient man with a big heart."
Brown is one of more than 950 VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System volunteers honored this week as part of National Volunteer Week that runs from April 15-21.
"Their work – marked by great commitment and