Are you a new volunteer that needs a quick breakdown of important information? Confused about where to start? Worry not, this FAQ will answer questions that volunteers commonly have.
Table of Contents
Who can answer my questions?
This Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page may have the answers you are looking for.
If you don’t find an FAQ topic concerning the thing you need help with, then please consider asking a Team Member or your Department Head (HD) on your Department’s Slack Channel. You can also reach out to your Volunteer Executive Officer (XO), if you have any questions concerning the Volunteer program. If you cannot find an answer here and do not have access to your department’s Slack channel, you can try sending an email to your Department’s Division Officer (DO), Department Head (DH), Executive Leadership Team (ELT), or your XO.
Remember, there is no such thing as a dumb question, so feel free to ask if you don’t know or are confused by something. Just remember to be patient. Someone will get back to you!
A key thing to note, especially at the beginning of the Volunteer program, is that the entire leadership team is made up of Digital Media Engagement (DME) Interns. Throughout the year, they will be taking classes just like you. They are very responsive, but not always online at the exact time you ask a question.
What do I do once I have accepted an offer to join the DME Team as a Virtual Volunteer?
1. Reply to the email sent to you by a representative from the DME Human Resources Department to confirm that you will accept the volunteer position with the DME Virtual Volunteer Team.
2. The Human Resources representative will then be able to send you an invitation link to access the Slack application which is a team communication tool that every DME volunteer and intern utilizes to collaborate with their teams when working on departmental projects. Make sure to watch this Video on how to use Slack and also this video on How to Navigate the DME Interns Slack Page.
3. Once you have been invited to join Slack, take a moment to introduce yourself to other VSFS volunteers and interns in our #general channel. Tell us a little about who you are, what you do, or any aspirations you may have! Please make sure to also include your role ([First and Last Name] [Department] Volunteer) in your profile and introduction.
4. You will also receive your DME Interns website (https://www.dmeinterns.org/) login information through your email in order for you to access and complete the pre-orientation (https://www.dmeinterns.org/courses/dme-volunteers-pre-orientation-course/). You may need to check you spam/junk inbox. Please also refer to the DME Account Security Policy. After completing pre-orientation and downloading the Volunteer documents, you will need to fill them out and submit them prior to the Volunteer orientation.
5. Before attending your Volunteer orientation, the following documents must be emailed to the VAVS Office addressed to Tyrone Green.
- Voluntary Service Application
- VA Central Office Volunteer Assignment Guide
- Contract of Commitment Form
- Supervisor Contract of Commitment Form
6. Please also be able to express to Tyrone Green, the VA Volunteer Service (VAVS) Coordinator, about your interest in becoming a Digital Media Engagement virtual volunteer and be able to schedule your Volunteer orientation within your email. Tyrone will be your main point of contact within the VAVS.
Note: Please look at the next step. You may be able to complete your respective Departmental Boot Camp training orientation earlier while waiting to attend the next Volunteer orientation since each orientation is only done every other Friday. You will need to utilize your DME website login information you received in your email previously so that you may start the DME Boot Camp right away. Directly message the HR representative on Slack who will have further instructions on how to access your DME Boot Camp orientation.
In the Boot Camp pages, you will learn about the Organizational structure and the apps we use, including:
- Slack: Team Communication After Basic Training occurs through Slack’s team application, located elsewhere online and by email. Watch a Video About How To Use Slack. At the end of Boot Camp, you will find a link to join Slack and a link once you complete basic training, post a reply to this forum indicating that you watched the video, are oriented, and ready for the next steps.
- Trello: Intern teams use a project management application, called Trello, also located elsewhere online, to facilitate collaboration on creative projects such as writing pieces and other tasks. Watch a tutorial on Using Trello. You will receive a Trello invitation once you complete basic training and post a reply to this forum indicating that you are oriented and ready.
- YouTube: See VA DME Training Videos.
7. At the end of the Boot Camp training, you will be invited to join team conversations and project activities. Volunteers are encouraged to participate. Please reach out to your Department Head (DH) by sending them a Direct Message (DM) if you have any questions, completed Boot Camp training, and are ready to begin working on your team’s respective projects. Please ensure to properly track your hours as it is the Volunteer’s responsibility to comply with rules and properly report hours.
Please also use a laptop or computer to complete the Boot Camp training. There have been issues of using a mobile device/phone when logging into the DME website and the Boot Camps.
8. Once you complete Boot Camp, please notify the HR representative and you will then be invited to join your assigned department’s Slack channel. Once you are able to be added to channel, please introduce yourself to your new team, and you will now be ready to start working on projects!
When can a Volunteer start working on DME projects?
A Volunteer must first complete the VAVS pre-orientation and their respective Departmental Boot Camp training orientation prior to starting any work and have their paperwork signed and submitted to Tyrone Green.
I finished VAVS onboarding, now what do I do?
Volunteers must update their profile information on Slack, which should include their name, project title, and the word “Volunteer,” e.g., Lisa Lee Graphic Design Volunteer.
HR will invite Volunteers to attend Boot Camp orientation to introduce them to their respective departments.
What are the most important Volunteer policies?
Important Volunteer Policies: The following are important policies for current Volunteers. Please forward any questions to your Volunteer XO.
1. Volunteer Expectations
Volunteers must work a minimum of ten (10) hours on DME projects to satisfy requirements.
Volunteers are limited to working forty (40) hours a week.
As part of the VAVS onboarding process, you signed multiple documents assigning yourself to the DME Team, so it’s imperative as Volunteers to prioritize your work to DME projects first. If Volunteers have some free time and have taken care of their DME responsibilities, they may moonlight with other VA teams outside of DME.
During the summer months, we will be short-staffed, so we need Volunteers to prioritize working on DME projects, as many of the interns will be leaving.
Because Volunteers are enrolling to be members of the DME team, only the ten hours worked in DME are counted and should be made a priority. If work is being done outside of DME, Tyrone Green will monitor those hours. You are also welcome to work more than 10 hours with DME if you wish.
2. Vacation Policy
All Volunteers within the DME Team Internship Program are permitted to take vacations on dates that coincide with holidays in their school’s academic calendar.
Volunteers who take vacations must give at least seven (7) days advance notice to relevant leadership and Tyrone Green that they will take a vacation.
- Retroactive notice of vacation is not permitted
- Volunteers must inform Tyrone Green, Dominique Ramirez, and your Volunteer XO of the start date and end date of their vacation.
- Volunteers must inform DH(s) of the department(s) they are assisting and give them a start and end date of their vacation.
- It is the responsibility of DH(s) to notify their respective ELT members that a Volunteer is going on vacation.
3. Requested Time Off (RTO) Policy
Volunteers will notify Tyrone Green, Dominique Ramirez, and your Volunteer XO about any extensive leave of absence (e.g., exams, family death, illness). It is also the Volunteer’s responsibility to notify their DH, as well, that they will be taking time off.
Can I Earn College Credit from Volunteering with DME?
No, but Volunteers are able to earn Volunteer credit.
Can Volunteers switch departments?
The bulk of your time will be spent working on projects within your department. Any Volunteer who wishes to switch departments will need to speak with their respective department heads to gain approval to switch departments. It is ultimately up to the leadership in both departments to approve a request. If you have fulfilled your time requirements within your assigned department, or there is not enough work for you at the moment in your assigned department, you are welcome to work with other departments to either fulfill your 10 hours, or to work outside of the required 10 hours.
What do I need to include in my weekly report?
When submitting weekly reports, only write “Your First Name Last Name Weekly Volunteer Report for [Date]” as the subject line of your email to your respective DH(s), ELT(s), XO and the Volunteer Program Manager. Please send the email to the Volunteer XO and Volunteer Program Manager and CC your respective DH(s) and ELT members every Thursday. Please contact your respective DH(s), ELT(s) and XO to receive the email in which you will submit your Weekly Reports to.
The desired structure of the weekly report e-mail includes the following sections:
- A. Any questions and/or concerns you may have.
- B. Your total hours worked for the week.
- C. What tasks and/or projects you completed for the week.
- D. What you hope to complete next week.
Note: Volunteers should always check with their respective department for any additional expectations regarding their Weekly Reports.
Additional Note: If you completed work for another department, make sure to CC the leadership of that department in your Weekly Report. Remember that communication with the leadership in your department is crucial! DME Leadership Interns/Volunteers and the Intern/Volunteer Program Manager are understanding of circumstances but are unable to assist you if we do not know your extenuating circumstances in advance.
What are the Do’s and Don’ts of Working as a DME Volunteer?
-Keep things respectful and professional, treat others the way you want to be treated.
-Respond to others in a timely and organized manner.
-Provide feedback in the form of reactions on Slack.
-Give recognition for other people’s hard work and time.
-Most importantly, learn and have fun!
-Talk about anything political or religious, as federal employees cannot discuss politics at work due to the Hatch Act.
-Participate in a project or interview, and not do it. If you cannot perform a task, at least let your teammates know.
-Harass others or interact with others in an unprofessional way. After all, most of the leadership is made up of students like yourself.
What does DO, DH, ELT, and XO stand for? Where can I find my DH, and how do I contact them?
DO – Division Officer
DH – Department Head
ELT – Executive Leadership Team
XO – Executive Officer
You can find an alphabetical list of the VA DME Internship Departments with their respective contact info at https://dmeinterns.org/internship-structure/.
- Department Head (DH): Department Heads are interns who manage and lead departments within the DME Internship Program. Opposed to DOs, they are at the top level, incorporating bigger-picture work in developing an entire department.
- Division Officer (DO): Reporting to DHs, DOs are more tactically concerned with managing interns and intern work within a specific aspect of a department.
- Executive Leadership Team (ELT): The ELT support the Internship/Volunteer Supervisor (Dominique Ramirez) to develop internship policies and procedures, manage communication within the internship, answer questions about the overall internship program, analyze metrics in all departments, supervise interns in a specific area of responsibility, and disseminate important announcements to all interns.
- Executive Officer (XO): An Executive Officer is in charge of overseeing all of the departments in the internship and serves as a liaison between those departments, the agency, and the Internship Supervisor. They are in charge of communication across departments, ensuring that interdepartmental processes flow seamlessly.
How Do I Deal with a Veteran’s Concerning Content I Find Online?
Veterans Crisis Hotline Referrals:
We Don’t Leave Our Own Behind!
Be sure to refer any Veteran in need to the Veterans Crisis Hotline.
This is a Priority for All Veterans.
While doing our work, we may meet a Veteran who needs help as revealed by any online or social media activity. Inform your Department Head about any concerning content you find online. If you don’t get a response, inform ELT. You can save a life!
What Happens If A Veteran Contacts the Crisis Line?
Notes below are from the Veterans Crisis Line at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/about/what-to-expect – They have other useful resources there.
What happens when I contact the Veterans Crisis Line?
When you call, chat, or text the Veterans Crisis Line, one of our trained responders will help you through any personal crisis, even if it does not involve thoughts of suicide. You decide how much you want to share — we’re here to listen and to help.
If you are in danger — or the Veteran or Service member you’re concerned about is in danger — the responder will work to make sure everyone is safe. The responder will help you get through the crisis and then help you connect with the services you need, either from your local VA medical center or elsewhere in your community. If you decide to share your contact information, the Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the nearest VA medical center will contact you by the next business day.
If you — or the Veteran or Service member you are concerned about — are in crisis but not at imminent risk for injury or suicide, then the responder will listen, offer support, and help you make a plan to stay safe.
On this page:
What happens when I call the Veterans Crisis Line?
Dial 1-800-273-8255. You will hear this recording:
“You have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, also servicing the Veterans Crisis Line. If you are in emotional distress or suicidal crisis or are concerned about someone who might be, we’re here to help. Please remain on the line while we route your call to the nearest crisis center in our network. Attention: If you are a U.S. military Veteran or current Service member or are calling about one, please Press 1 now to speak with the Veterans Crisis Line.”
Press 1. There will be a brief pause while the call is routed to the Veterans Crisis Line. A responder specially trained to support Veterans and Service members will answer your call and provide the support described above.
What happens when I text the Veterans Crisis Line?
Send a text to 838255. You can say as much or as little as you like to get the conversation started. You will receive a text back that reads:
“VA Crisis Center: I’m here to help. If in danger, call 911. For more info, call 800-273-8255. (Press 1). Please keep msgs under 160 characters. STOP to cancel.”
You may text STOP at any time to end the conversation. If you do, you will receive this free message in response:
“Free Msg: VA Crisis Center: You have successfully unsubscribed and will receive no more messages. More info email VHA.SuicideHotlineStaff@va.gov. Conversation ended, this text dialogue has been deleted. For more help, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.”
How do I chat online?
Go to VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
Read the chat terms of service. Please note:
- The Veterans Crisis Line does not collect personally identifiable information unless you provide that information to the responder.
- Security controls, including encryption and authentication, are in place to protect your information.
- Any contractors acting on behalf of VA in administering the Veterans chat service are subject to the same legal requirements VA follows for maintaining the privacy and security of your information.
Check the box next to “I agree to the Terms of Service” and click the button to start your confidential chat.
A new screen will appear, asking for your first name or a nickname so the responder knows how to address you. Click “Send” to start the chat. A chat box will appear with either a responder ready to chat or a window letting you know that someone will be right with you. A responder will reply to your message immediately and provide the support described above.
After the Call: Support doesn’t end with your conversation. Our responders can put you in touch with local resources after your call, chat, or text.