Teen volunteers nearly 240 hours of her time at VA medical center

Julia LeDoux
August 04, 2020 - 7:30 am

Department of Veterans Affairs

A teenager has stepped up to keep those entering the Erie Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Pennsylvania safe during the COVID-19 pandemic by volunteering as a screener at the facility.

“By helping veterans, I also feel like I am helping my own family in some way," explained Brooke Jackowski in a VA blog post.

Jackowski is the daughter and granddaughter of Air Force veterans. 

“I feel a sense of ease knowing that I am on the front lines serving our Veterans,” she said. “ I feel like I can do the most good being the first person the patient comes in and sees.”

Jackowski, a senior at Maplewood High School, began volunteering at the center in 2017. She has volunteered  235 hours of her time at the facility in various assignments, including working with its interior designer and helping to renovate the Patriot Café.

Volunteer veterans are making sure no veteran dies alone

She also performs clerical duties in the executive suite and conducts patient escort duties. Currently, she volunteers her time twice a week to screen veterans, staff, volunteers and visitors for COVID-19 at the main entrance.

For Jackowski, having both a father and grandfather who were in the military helped her form an appreciation of life and sacrifice and helped her understand that “life isn’t always perfect.”

“Constantly moving around and leaving my friends gave me the ability to deal with undesirable situations and overcome obstacles, both large and small,” she said. “Not always having the opportunity to see family members in person, but rather over video, helped me realize that time is precious and to be thankful for what you receive because in an instant it can all be gone.”

Jackowski said she learned two things from her dad.

VA Medical Foster Homes help vets live their best lives

“Flexibility in life is something you must embrace. And war affects people – both those who leave and those who stay behind – in different ways,” she said. “My grandfather taught me that patience is always needed. If something doesn’t work right, either try again or find another way to do it.”

Jackowski was recently recognized by DAV as a recipient of a $7,500 Disable American Veteran Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship for her commitment to making a difference in veterans' lives. 

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com

Want to get more connected to the great stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter.