A Way to Give Back - Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (VAAA)
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Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (VAAA)


A Way to Give Back

June 4, 2010

Acquisition Interns Spend the Day with Veterans at the VA Loch Raven Community Living and Rehabilitation Center

On June 4, 2010, thirty contract specialist interns from the VA Acquisition Academy (VAAA) visited with Veterans residing at VA’s Loch Raven Community Living and Rehabilitation Center (CLRC), a co-ed facility that houses 120 Veterans from various wars, in Loch Raven, Md.  The interns spent the day visiting with Veterans, sharing stories, playing games, and taking nature walks with the residents to show appreciation for their service.

Nintendo Wii game systems and electronic trivia games, such as “Guess Who” and “Name That Sitcom,” were set up to allow residents the opportunity to have fun while experiencing new age technology.  The Loch Raven residents eagerly accepted the challenges of electronic and traditional board games like checkers and chess with impressive results.  Nostalgic music from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and present day played in the background to set the mood.  The day’s highlight was the BINGO event.  The Academy interns donated items such as socks, candy, body wash, toothpaste, batteries, etc., to use for Bingo prizes.  The grand prize was a desktop entertainment system.  The total value of giveaways was estimated at $500.00.  With standing room only, game participants tried their luck at winning exciting prizes.  It was a full hour filled with joyous shouts and laughter.

“Mission service is a big part of our intern curriculum at the VA Acquisition Academy,” said Lisa Doyle, Academy Chancellor.  “We are training the next generation of acquisition professionals who buy the goods and services for our Veterans.  It’s important for them to understand and see our mission to care for Veterans first-hand,” stated Doyle.  “Mission service events help the interns understand how they impact the mission and our ability to care for our nation’s heroes.”

The day was as fulfilling for the interns and Veterans alike.  Crystal Showell, a 2008 intern, was particularly moved by the experience.  During the lunch hour, Showell and her colleagues assisted by serving meals and feeding residents.  One resident in particular stood out to Showell — a young female who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.  Showell provided one-on-one support during the lunch hour by feeding and conversing with the resident.  The resident’s family lives out of state and she doesn’t get to see them much.  She said she was thankful for the company.  At that moment Showell made the decision to serve as a volunteer on a regular basis.

“I always wanted to be in the military,” said Showell.  “I grew up surrounded by pictures of my grandfather and uncle in uniform.  They were two of the most loving and kind people in my life.  To this day, though they are no longer with me, they remain the two biggest influences in my life.  Volunteering and spending time with these Veterans is fulfilling and is a way to give back.”

“The mission service was about gaining understanding about who we are and what we do,” said Rosa Rivera, a 2009 intern.  “To understand the meaning of selfless service and our purpose as VA contract specialists, we humbly rendered the gift of time.  Every Veteran shared a unique story about their life’s journey.  The stories were powerful and life changing,” she said.

“Thanks to the sacrifices made by our Veterans, we lead lives that are filled with opportunity,” said Doyle.  “I am grateful to be able to serve those who served us.”

The VA Acquisition Internship School was created in 2008 to train and develop the next generation of acquisition professionals for the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Each year 30 new interns are hired into the intern program.

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