18-year-old Arjun Verma has been awarded the Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship for his exemplary volunteer work with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization and the Orland VA Health Care System (OVAHCS).
Verma co-founded TeleHealth Access for Seniors, a nonprofit organization that supports homebound seniors and their access to virtual health care. Using donated and repurposed smart devices, Verma has helped connect seniors to online healthcare providers and their families for free.
TeleHealth Access for Seniors has created a network of 450 people across the country who have either donated or delivered devices to 36 VA Medical Centers across the country.
“My old iPad, which connected me to my dad when he was thousands of miles away for cancer treatment, had laid the groundwork for connecting thousands of seniors and Veterans to their families and doctors,” said Verma.
Verma became a regular volunteer with the DAV, contributing over 275 hours of service. He later became a key player in creating the VA pilot program, Compassionate Contact Corps (CCC).
CCC is a virtual social prescription program that pairs trained volunteers with Veterans experiencing social seclusion. Matched by common interests, the volunteer provides companionship to the Veteran with weekly phone calls and video visits.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many VA social workers found the need to implement a program that combats against social isolation. CCC is designed to increase social interaction, foster positive mental health and help maintain a sense of community among Veterans.
The organization has also gained support from the American Red Cross, which has made the CCC their signature program. CCC is at some stage of implementation at over 80 VA facilities across the country.
“I’ve discovered my passion for health equity and equal opportunity,” said Verma. “It has truly opened my eyes to the impact that simple solutions can have on challenging problems.”
Verma was nominated for the scholarship by the Chief of Voluntary Service at the OVAHCS, Adelina Sowell.
“He is an amazing young man,” said Sowell. “We will be hearing from him again in the future for all his wonderful involvement in the community.”
Verma plans to use the scholarship to further his education to become an advocate for environmental and social justice issues.