Volunteer program helps Veterans during hospital stays

Thirty-four-year-old Anthony Dent said after serving in the military, he wanted to give back to fellow veterans. (WSYX/WTTE)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- Thirty-four-year-old Anthony Dent said after serving in the military, he wanted to give back to fellow veterans.

The cancer researcher at OSU spent four years in the Air Force where he learned Mandarin, and served as a linguist.

Now, when he's not in the lab looking for cures for cancer, he's in the hallways at Riverside Methodist Hospital making veterans feel at home.

Dent is part of OhioHealth's Volunteer Veteran Visitation Program. The goal is to make certain each veteran admitted is given health and social resource materials. They also get a miniature flag complete with a wooden base made and donated by the VFW Post 2398 in Worthington as part of their stay.

Dent met 63-year-old Larry Baker on Memorial Day at Riverside Hospital.

"I feel relieved. I've not had any veterans speak to be like this," the US Army Veteran said.

Dent said while he asks how patients are feeling, he's best at breaking the ice with fellow soldiers.

"I can connect with them, the experiences we've shared, the language," Dent said.

The volunteer was one of the first of its kind in the nation when OhioHealth launched it seven years ago.

"The Volunteers For Veterans Program, it's like Memorial Day every day, because we go to our veterans. We've seen about 9,000 of them over the past seven years," said OhioHealth Volunteer Services Manager Gerry O'Shaughnessy.

O'Shaughnessy said the program started at Riverside, but is now offered at all OhioHealth hospitals.

To learn more information about the Veteran Visitation Program, call: 614-566-5313, or visit OhioHealth's website.

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