The Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a force of dedicated volunteers who stand ready to support the community in the event of a public health emergency. Each of the 22 local MRC units across Virginia are comprised of teams of medical and public health professionals who, along with interested non-medical community members, volunteer their skills, expertise and time to support ongoing public health initiatives and health emergencies throughout Virginia. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, thousands of Americans volunteered their skills and talents to assist the community. Many more asked, “What can I do to help?” The MRC was established in 2002 as a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities.
Each MRC unit is a local program built on the concept that communities can improve their overall health and preparedness by organizing volunteer resources from within. The purpose of MRC units is to:
- Recruit health care professionals and volunteers in supporting roles.
- Create a framework to match volunteers’ skills to address community needs.
- Train volunteers to respond effectively to local emergencies.
- Provide reserve capacity to respond to local, state and national public health needs.
Volunteering can give the great satisfaction of helping others. For many individuals, volunteering gives them a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. It helps to broaden their social networks, and that can have many positive effects. Volunteering provides opportunities for social interactions with fellow volunteers while supporting an important activity in the community. Interacting with others with a common interest is also a great way to create new relationships.
Volunteering can also have a significant effect on your own health. Research presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service shows a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.
You Never Know When Your Community Might Need You.
The success of our response to a large-scale public health event, such as a pandemic or bioterrorism attack, depends on how quickly and effectively we can mobilize MRC volunteers. MRC units throughout the state actively improve and protect their community’s public health by supporting:
MRC units throughout the state actively improve and protect their community’s public health by supporting:
- Health education and preventative health screenings.
- Efforts to provide medical services to at-risk populations.
- Communicable disease outbreak response.
- Volunteer emergency preparedness training and exercises.
- Local, state and national response to terrorism attacks and disasters; providing staffing support for medical services, emergency shelters, mental health outreach, dispensing sites for medications and vaccinations, disease investigations and environmental health efforts for food and human safety.
To become a VA Medical Reserve Corps Volunteer, please submit an application in the Virginia Volunteer Health System.
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