Fauquier County resident Jay Steinmetz served as an Air Force pilot in Desert Storm. He lives alone and can no longer drive, but he needs to get to his dialysis appointments three times a week.

Warrenton resident and Vietnam era Army veteran Jerry Whitehouse needed upgrades to his house to help with mobility. 

For both Steinmetz and Whitehouse, there is an organization in Fauquier County that enables them to stay in their homes and continue to live fulfilling lives: Hero’s Bridge.

Hero’s Bridge, a Warrenton-based nonprofit founded by Molly Brooks in 2016, focuses on providing rapid and direct assistance to aging veterans. Its nine staff members are complemented by an impressive force of volunteers. 

Thanks to these volunteers, Steinmetz has transportation to his dialysis appointments through volunteer drivers, so he can remain in his own home. To assist Whitehouse, Hero’s Bridge partnered with Foothills Housing Corporation to help with deck repairs, handrails on the front steps, and an upgraded walk-in shower. 

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Older veterans associated with Hero’s Bridge are at different stages of life. Some need relatively little help only occasionally, some need much more. 

“Our volunteers meet veterans where they are. Some have involved needs, some just need help with a broken appliance. We meet them where they are today and if that changes tomorrow, well, we’ll change our service. There are so many unique circumstances where we can help,” said Aimée O’Grady, Hero’s Bridge Outreach Coordinator.

Despite their impressive volunteer numbers (some only contribute occasionally due to time constraints) Hero’s Bridge is always in need of volunteers. 

Time constraints often deter people from volunteer work, but the Hero’s Bridge volunteer program is extremely flexible. “People don’t realize how much even a short amount of time spent with a veteran can impact their life. Even a few hours a month or an occasional day spent on a project would help,” said O’Grady.  

So what can you do? 

Volunteer Programs 

Home Front: keeping veterans’ homes safe

Examples: yard maintenance, home repair (from minor to critical), wheelchair ramp construction

Helpful qualifications: A giving heart and resourcefulness! No special skills are required, but those with specific yard or construction industry knowledge and the ability to safely operate related equipment are very helpful.  

Paw Patrol: Bringing joy and alleviating loneliness through our four-legged friends

Examples: visiting veterans with a friendly dog, occasional help with a veteran’s pet.  

Special qualifications: Experience with animals; visiting pets must be healthy with current vaccinations and pass a Hero’s Bridge evaluation. 

Hero Driver *ongoing need*

Examples: Driving veterans to medical appointments, picking up groceries, post office, errands, driving the Hero’s Bridge van for trips and activities (special training required)

Special qualifications: Clean driving record, DMV check, auto insurance, acceptable vehicle in good repair that is easily accessible and can accommodate basic medical equipment (walkers, canes) and some familiarity with such equipment. Hero’s Bridge has a wheelchair-accessible van for volunteer drivers who receive special training. 

Friendly Caller: alleviate loneliness by reaching out

Example: Check in by phone periodically to ensure wellness. Just listen. Some older veterans are lonely and would just like someone to talk to.

Special qualifications: Good listener! Good phone service and reception, a location where you can speak loudly if speaking to a veteran who is hard of hearing. 

Honor Guard: Appreciation for veterans’ devotion to our country

Examples: research into lost medal replacement and finding comrades, assisting with and attending veteran socials in person, listening to a veteran’s stories

Helpful qualifications: Love, respect, and appreciation for veterans. Interest in military history, computer and internet research skills, and good listening skills. 

Battle Buddy: stepping in like family

New for 2024: The Hero’s Bridge Social Connection Team

Help us keep our veterans socializing! Host one of Hero’s Bridge’s monthly veteran socials at the Warrenton United Methodist Church by providing refreshments, crafts, and activities. This is a great opportunity to give back for individuals, groups, or businesses.

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