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Blog: Stories and Insight

Volunteering Veterans Give Back

Susan Prentiss chose to volunteer for Samaritan because of the organization’s reputation. That was six years ago.

“Several years earlier, my mother passed away on hospice care,” Susan explains. “That really impressed me. I decided that when I retired, I wanted to volunteer for hospice. I called, signed up for a class, and have really enjoyed all the volunteer opportunities through Samaritan.”

These days, Susan’s preference is to visit patient and family homes, offering her time and heart through bereavement calls, vigils, and visits.

Susan’s husband, Paul, retired after twenty-seven years of military service, has a similar story. “My father went into hospice in Massachusetts. I wanted him to fight, but I realized, and saw, how sweet it was to see him slowly transition comfortably,” He says. “The hospice people were like angels. Susan wanted to make sure I kept busy after retirement, so I decided to volunteer.”

Paul has been a Samaritan volunteer for over two years, sharing his time through Samaritan’s Vet-to-Vet program, primarily with other male veterans.

When asked what volunteering at Samaritan means to him, Paul explains, “Many of the men I speak to want to talk about death. The experience puts things in perspective, and the training Samaritan offers is invaluable.”

What advice would Paul and Susan offer someone considering becoming a Samaritan volunteer?

“I would tell them to look into it. Hospice has many different facets – office, thrift shop, etc. See where you would fit and how you can get involved,” Paul says. “Samaritan holds their volunteers to a higher standard, which makes a huge difference in how you do your job.”

“I just tell people it’s a wonderful experience for me,” says Susan. “All the different aspects of the company offer many opportunities for whatever someone is comfortable with. I often think of how professional Samaritan is.”

What does it meant to be a veteran helping other veterans?

“We love our country,” Susan says. “That’s obvious. We are part of a local American Legion Post, and we share the history we have learned with the people we visit.”

“Most of men I meet have a desire to share their stories,” Paul adds. “Listening to stories and talking about friends and adventures they shared is how I try to serve.”

“All the people and patients I have met have enriched my life,” Susan says. Because she and Paul both are Samaritan volunteers, they are able to share the experience and understand the emotions often involved in volunteering. “Our personal lives have been enriched by doing this.”

“The rewards are ten times more than what you put in,” Paul adds.