The attitude and vibe beaming out of Walter Reed Military Medical Center
is so uplifting and positive, and I just feel grateful to be a part of it.
Ben Shambon volunteers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington DC. While many may think Walter Reed is a place of sadness, Ben’s volunteer experience revealed it is actually a place of great hope.
“The patients I interact with are unique. They are returning home, seeing their families for the first time in months, and getting needed medical attention,” said Ben. “It’s one of the most interesting places I have ever been. The attitude and vibe beaming out of the place is so uplifting and positive, I just feel grateful to be a part of it.”
Ben found Walter Reed through the American Red Cross. After high school, he enrolled in college, but didn’t quite find what he was looking for. He decided to take time off from school, and in his extra time look for ways to help his community.
Walter Reed was experiencing a high patient load and relied on volunteers through the Red Cross to help keep the hospital running. Ben was tasked with walking the hospital hallways with a convenience cart for patients, delivering personal care items, like deoderant and toothbrushes.
“Coming home from war they have nothing, so you are providing them with the essentials,” Ben said. “But a big part of it is also the emotional support you can provide. I can’t tell you how many times I have ended up talking with a patient for three hours. Sometimes they are faced with tough choices and challenges and you can help them out.”
Ben eventually took over the convenience cart program, building out the schedule and managing a staff of volunteers. He credits his family for fostering a passion for volunteering and said that it never feels like an obligation, but rather something he enjoys.
Ben has returned to college, and is currently enrolled full time at George Washington University. In addition to his work at Walter Reed, he is also a certified volunteer EMT/firefighter. “After a long week of studying everybody is going to bars, but I get to hang out with friends and ride around on a fire truck. It’s just an awesome and different experience to end the week,” Ben said.
Ben enjoys spending time with friends, and stays close with his brother, with whom he recently traveled to Israel. He also enjoys exploring the great outdoors with his companion Mason, a three-year-old Belgian Shepard.