What We Do:
USVH students generally volunteer at least two hours per week, and activities
with veterans vary between student-veteran pairs. At the beginning of each
school year, each volunteer is assigned two veterans to visit each week, but
most students tend to befriend and build lasting relationships with many veterans.
As most veterans look forward to student visits, volunteers are asked to dedicate
themselves to consistently appear at the Veterans Affairs Hospital each week. Consistent
volunteering is also crucial to building meaningful relationships with their veterans.
On a typical day volunteering, students and veterans activities range from
chatting, playing board games, walking around the building or an outdoor
garden, looking at magazines together, watching TV together – it all really
depends on the student-veteran pair. Some chapters organize weekly or monthly
activities for both veterans and students to engage in. These special events
also vary. Examples of special events held in the past at the Stanford Chapter
include a performance by the Stanford Jazz Orchestra, a pumpkin-decorating
party for Halloween, movie matinees complete with popcorn to munch on,
origami-making parties, and an annual “Art in the Park” event at the Menlo Park
Veterans Affairs Hospital, featuring carnival games and performances by different
student groups. To see examples of school year events, please
In the spring of 1994, a Stanford University student volunteering
in the Alzheimer's Ward at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Administration
Hospital discovered a group of patients suffering from loneliness. He
made a vow that these patients, and others like them, would never know
such despair again. With that promise, United Students for Veterans'
Health (USVH) was born. The Stanford USVH program began with forty
volunteers dedicating their afternoons and evenings to interact with the
Alzheimer's patients by going on walks, playing games, and engaging in
conversation. A call to serve echoed across the nation and USVH grew into
what it is today: a student-led organization with chapters of caring volunteers
at VA Hospitals across the nation.
Read about our founders here!
Today, USVH's National Headquarters are located in the Haas Center
for Public Service at Stanford University. The National Board was created in 2004
in order to focus efforts on expanding the program to other schools around the
country. Members of the National Board work closely with student leaders from
other schools to start up a new chapter, advising them throughout all the steps
necessary to recruit and interview volunteers, establish relations with a local VA,
and how to maintain an active chapter. As the National Board consists of Stanford
students, they collaborate frequently with the
Stanford Chapter Board,
as well as consistently volunteer each week at the Palo Alto VA Hospital.
Meet our National Board members!