Summer of Service Connects Volunteers with Veterans

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FAYETTEVILLE, AR (KNWA) — Northwest Arkansans are making strides at the VA hospital to help the brave men and women who served our country. It’s an initiative this summer across the country.

“When we got back, we were treated like we were dirt. Less than dirt. And now, they treat us like we’re people,” said William ‘Bill’ Sharp, Vietnam War Veteran.

For Sharp and his wife Barbara, volunteers at the VA hospital in Fayetteville offered a therapeutic presence, calming what was a traumatic experience.

“Pretty low, pretty out of it. I didn’t know if I’d make it or not,” said Sharp.

The VA is responding to a national call to recruit more volunteers, through the “Summer of Service’ project. It brings in many to lend a helping hand or even an open ear to vets.

“It’s so uplifting to see these volunteers there,” said Barbara Sharp, Bill’s Wife. “And they just bend over backwards to help you.”

The ‘Summer of Service’ Project, not only enjoyed by veterans but also by the many volunteers who say they too get something out of it.

“I didn’t want to quit work, I wanted to do something worthwhile, and volunteering at the VA was an opportunity that I had,” said Scott Test, a 10-year volunteer.

Every other Sunday, Test and his wife bring their therapy dog, Molly to mingle with veterans.

“Just meeting the people, and giving service to the veterans who’ve worked hard and did a lot more than I did, of service,” he said.

It’s the first time in nine days the Sharps have stepped outside the hospital room.

“I couldn’t see the light at the end of the rainbow, or at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t even see the tunnel. But here I am now,” Bill said.

Now the couple from Joplin, says a simple thank you to the caring people they’ve encountered during their stay.

“For volunteering and giving himself and his time to help us all out when we come,” said Barbara. “We have loved ones here, we get very confused. It’s overwhelming for us.”

Bill says he is ‘grateful’.

Click here for more information on the ‘Summer of Service’ Project.

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