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"The VHP is a labor of love shared by all who volunteer their time and talents to the program. Sharing and preserving the one-of-a-kind stories and experiences of veterans will change you forever, and you will never forget those heroes you are privilege to meet."
—Patsy Ray, Prescott, AZ
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a longtime supporter of the Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress (LC) American Folklife Center, and Voluntary Service Offices (VAVS) at VA Medical Centers across the nation devote significant resources to record the first-hand personal histories of the veterans from all wars. “VAVS is dedicated to creating engaging programs to enhance the quality of the lives of the veterans we serve. VHP is one way we can serve our veterans and ensure their unique experiences are captured and made available for current and future generations,” said Director, Voluntary Service Laura B. Balun.
The most active of VAVS offices is located at the VA Medical Center in Prescott, AZ, a program that has generated over 600 recorded interviews since the program began in 2003. A dedicated cadre of 20 to 30 trained volunteers work together to collect personal, service-oriented histories. Gary Gift trains volunteer interviewers how to record oral histories according to LC criteria and offers useful techniques for achieving an in-depth relationship with each interviewee.
Volunteer Bill Morrison issues invitations for veterans to share their first-hand stories of military service by delivering regular presentations to military and civic organizations, following-up on leads he receives from media stories, and pursuing referrals from those who have already shared interviews. Volunteer William Dunsmore directs a delegation of VHP volunteers who distribute flyers to and schedule interviews with attendees of military band concerts, the annual Golden Corral's Veterans Day Dinner, and the annual Prescott Air Show.
Patsy Ray, coordinator for the VHP program at the Prescott VAVS Office said, “I credit teamwork of the many volunteers and the support of the Voluntary Services Office of the VA for the success of the VHP.” An Army Air Corps and Air Force dependent who grew up in the military, living and attending school overseas in Hawaii and Japan, Patsy went on to work as a civilian with the Army in Korea and Germany for many years. Sally Fine of the Prescott VAVS Office added, “With a background in oral history and a love of history and biography, the VHP naturally interested her, and I credit her with the long-term success of our VHP program.
Operational support for the VHP is provided by many volunteers who conduct interviews, work the video camera, reproduce copies of interview tapes, schedule interviews, package materials to be sent to the Library of Congress, compile and maintain a computerized database of interviewees, train new volunteers, assemble a selected military research library, assist other communities in establishing their own VHP programs, and handle the many day-to-day details of an ever-expanding program.
Prescott VAVS Chief Frank Cimorelli offered, “Our volunteers are the life’s blood of Prescott’s VAVS office, and I look forward to hearing more and more of the personal stories they record for VHP. This is just one of many ways we are dedicated to serving our veterans.”