Four volunteers at the Columbia VA Health Care System (VAHCS) were recently recognized for selflessly volunteering for a combined total of more than 26,000 hours serving Veterans.

Volunteers provide valuable assistance and play a critical role in fulfilling the Columbia VA mission to serve Veterans. Normally, Voluntary Service honors the recipients of the Outstanding Service Award and Presidential Lifetime Awards at a special event. That wasn’t possible this year, due to current precautions, so Voluntary Service went on the road to present the awards.

Outstanding Service Award: Dorothy Dickert with 13,158 hours

Dorothy Dickert (photo above) received the Outstanding Service Award for more than 12,500 hours of volunteer service to Veterans. Dickert said, “That’s how I got started volunteering. I wanted give back to the Columbia VA for taking such good care of my late husband.”

Retired Colonel Martin Thomas receives his award.

Dickert started volunteering one day a week, but that quickly turned into five days a week. She said she misses her job and can’t wait to come back and attain her next goal of volunteering 15,000 hours. She is well on her way, as she has volunteered a total of 13,158 hours so far.

The next project for Dickert is to call Veterans in the Community Living Center who have no family and read to them, or “just provide good conversation,” as she put it. Dickert is 93-years old and has no intention of slowing down.

Presidential Lifetime Awards

Presidential Lifetime Awards recognize volunteers who have served 4,000 hours or more.

Martin Thomas volunteered 4,933 hours

Judy Hubbard volunteered more than 4,000 hours.

Retired Colonel Martin Thomas is well known at the Florence VA Clinic. There, he drives Veterans to their appointments. As a 38-year Army Veteran, Thomas can relate to the Veterans and loves to swap stories. “It is a pleasure to serve. I’ve got something going on everyday volunteer wise,” said Thomas.

Judy Hubbard volunteered 4,307 hours

Gulf War Veteran Judy Hubbard, who served five years in the Army, drives Veterans to their appointments in the Columbia area. Hubbard said, “I miss all my Veterans and I can’t wait to get back to serving my Veterans in the community in a normal capacity.”

Joseph Robinson volunteered more than 4,000 hours.

In addition to volunteering at VA, Hubbard also gives back to her community by rescuing abandoned animals and placing them in forever homes.

Joseph Robinson volunteered 4,206 hours

Joseph Robinson served in the Army for 36 years, from 1954 to 1990. At 86 years-old, his volunteer days started at 4 a.m. to have coffee ready for Veterans as they came in for their appointments.

When asked about volunteering, Robinson said, “I love it! It’s my second home.” He enjoys the camaraderie and talking with other Veterans. He can’t wait until things get back to normal so he can return to helping Veterans.


Marlous Black is a public affairs officer with the Columbia VA Health Care System.

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