Through the 2010-2011 fiscal year, donations to Voluntary Services dropped by $400,000. (WRDW-TV / Sept. 15, 2011)
News 12 at This Morning / Friday, Sept. 16, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Michael Flake served five and half years in the U.S. Army. He's now happily employed through the Charlie Norwood VA, but that wasn't always the case.
"I was fighting an addiction over 30 years. I came here from Alabama. They had no beds for me there," Flake said.
He says he came to Charlie Norwood with only the clothes on his back.
"The first clothes I put on came from the services; they don't have the services to do that now," he said.
The program provides clothes, bedding and basic hygiene essentials like shampoo and soap, which helped Flake during his time of need.
"I've been in training, that comes from the donations of those services," Flake said. "I have a job. I'm a contributing member to society.
Kim Hoge with Voluntary Services says this year they can't lend a helping hand to everyone that needs it.
"We were providing those items to any veteran who presented themselves to our organization here. Now we've had to cut back; we're only giving those items to inpatients," Hoge said.
You can see it in the supply bins which are usually filled to the top. Through the 2010-2011 fiscal year, their donations dropped by $400,000.
"That really has an impact on our veterans and the health care they are receiving," Hoge said.
Flake is disappointed to see the decline.
"It hurts me -- I feel so helpless because No. 1, I am living example it saves lives," Flake said. "This money is helping someone. It benefits the community, it will generate jobs, it will generate better people walking the streets."
If you can't give up any more money because of tough times, the VA also needs volunteers to serve the men and women who served our country.
"Manpower needs are great, which are also down for Voluntary Services," Hoge said.
It's a way to give back without breaking the bank and you could find yourself helping someone like Flake transition back from war.
If you are interested in volunteering or giving back, you can visit the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center off of Wrightsboro Road.
To make a cash donation, contact Voluntary Services at (706) 733-0188, Ext. 3020. Monetary donations can also be specifically designated for a particular program.