For Immediate Release
Dallas – Recognizing the training and skills of Pennsylvania’s veterans, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) and Sen. Michael Waugh (R-28) are encouraging current and former members of the military to volunteer for a state-sponsored disaster assistance response team.
“This effort combines the best of our military with the best of our first responders,” Baker said.
The senators’ call for volunteers was inspired by a York-area combat veteran who outlined his idea for a volunteer veteran force earlier this spring. Knowing that many veterans have a broad spectrum of job-ready skills and a desire to continue to serve the Commonwealth and their country, the veteran recommended that former members of the armed forces be assembled into an “inactive ready-reserve” force that could be activated in times of emergency or disaster.
The volunteer force would supplement the work of the Pennsylvania National Guard, which is often activated in times of domestic emergency.
“Veterans are accustomed to stressful environments and hard work, so when disaster strikes, they are trained, ready and willing to give it their all,” Baker said.
“Whether it’s moving water-logged furniture from flooded basements, sifting through rubble, lifting trees from toppled houses, unblocking roadways, or securing tarps on torn roofs, our veterans would be called upon once again to do what they do best—respond, help, defend and protect,” said Waugh.
At the senators’ request, the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs agreed to work with the Department of Health to boost the Commonwealth’s disaster response readiness through SERVPA, the Commonwealth’s online registry for medical and non-medical volunteers.
Veterans interested in registering can go to www.serv.pa.gov, indicate their military specialty and become affiliated with a Department of Health district office. They can also list key skills and document their status as active, inactive, retired or student.
“We hope our veterans service organizations, such as the American Legion and VFW, will share this information with their members and encourage them to register with SERVPA,” Waugh said. “When groups of veterans responded to Hurricane Sandy, we witnessed the sense of mission that they bring to their work, and the camaraderie that endures,” Waugh said.
“Veterans know what service to our country means, and this is another way for them to continue to serve their community, if they have the ability and the desire,” Baker said. “Our National Guard is an amazing resource. This volunteer network would be an ancillary force that would mesh the needs of our citizens for skilled response with the top-notch talents of our men and women who have worn the uniform,” Baker said.