(NewsUSA) - Patriotism is in the air during the summer months. It starts with Memorial Day and flows into July 4th. But it's not just about fireworks, cookouts and parades.
The heart of patriotism is helping others, and like our veterans, volunteer firefighters, EMS personnel and rescue workers are all about helping those in need.
In fact, for veterans looking for new ways to give back, becoming a volunteer firefighter can be a great choice to serve their communities.
According to the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), the leading nonprofit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS and rescue services, volunteer firefighters enjoy many of the same benefits veterans found in the military.
These include a sense of accomplishment, achievement and pride in the work they do. Volunteers get to learn new skills, make new friends, be a part of a tight-knit team, give back to their community, and make a difference.
And there is a significant need across the country for more volunteer firefighters, EMTs, and rescue personnel. That is why the NVFC has launched a nationwide recruitment campaign called "Make Me A Firefighter." The campaign is supported by a federal SAFER grant.
"Recruiting new volunteers is a critical challenge facing many fire and EMS departments," says NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn.
"NVFC research has shown that a key hurdle is many people simply don't realize their department needs volunteers. Another challenge is that volunteer departments often don't have the time or resources to develop a robust recruitment campaign. The Make Me A Firefighter campaign helps alleviate these obstacles by putting ready-to-use, message-tested resources in the hands of local departments."
One audience the Council is trying to reach is veterans.
There is a natural fit for those who have served their nation abroad and are now looking for ways to serve their communities locally. Communities served by volunteer firefighters depend on them to be their first line of defense for many types of emergencies.
Volunteer firefighters are summoned to a wide array of emergencies across the country every day, including fires, medical incidents, terrorist events, natural disasters, hazardous materials incidents, water rescues, and other public service calls.
The public relies on these volunteers, who receive special training to prepare for what may come.
To lend some perspective:
* Volunteers comprise 70 percent of firefighters in the United States.
* The majority of fire departments in the United States are volunteer. Small, rural communities especially rely on volunteers to provide an array of services and protection.
* The time donated by volunteer firefighters saves localities across the country an estimated $139.8 billion per year. For many communities, switching to an all-career model is not feasible.
Volunteer firefighters come from all backgrounds and professions, and encompass all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities. Members of the public, including veterans, who are interested in serving their communities as fire service volunteers can find opportunities by visiting www.MakeMeAFirefighter.org.
Fire departments can add their opportunities to the database and access ready-to-use recruitment resources at http://portal.nvfc.org.