WWII Vet, 100 Years Old, Won’t Stop Serving Others
'He refuses to retire ... He is a stunning example of camaraderie and support for his fellow veterans'
World War II army vet Vincent Savarino, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, has volunteered for over 31 years at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.
It’s the kind of fact that tends to get brushed over in a busy life — but let’s take a moment to recall it, to celebrate the years of devotion to others.
He’s volunteered for more than 13,000 hours.
Serving others and serving his great nation is part of this man’s nature. Savarino did two tours of duty in the Army during World War II, according to the Veterans Health Administration; he served from 1935 to 1941.
“I joined the Army to keep myself out of trouble,” Savarino told Eyewitness News in Pennsylvania. “Things were rough back then. I was shining shoes on my knees in front of the post office at West Farms, [in the] Bronx, New York, for a nickel with my brother and sisters before I enlisted.”
When he returned home after his years in the Army, he married, raised a family, and worked for decades as a plumber until his retirement.
Today, “the VA is my family. That’s why I come here,” Savarino said.
So even at age 100, this man continues to look out for his comrades.
“Mr. Savarino is a stunning example of the camaraderie and support that highlights our volunteer program here at the medical center,” said Debra Schlosser, chief of voluntary service at the medical center in Wilkes Barre.
Savarino’s volunteer service is a model for those looking for a worthy cause in which to spend their time.
“As the medical center’s oldest active volunteer, Savarino [has a] work ethic like no other. At 100 years old, he refuses to retire,” Melanie Thomas, a service assistant at the medical center in Wilkes Barre, told LifeZette in an email. “His dedication and service has empowered veterans to lead high-quality lives, and his selfless spirit is an inspiration to everyone here.”
Savarino started out volunteering in recreational therapy activities. He provided coffee and donuts for weekend social hours and assisting staff with outings for members.
“As Mr. Savarino became more involved as a volunteer, he began to take on more responsibilities,” said Melanie Thomas.
Savarino helped start the popcorn committee, which raises funds for patients.
“He became a deputy representative on the VA Voluntary Service Committee, where he has helped to raise thousands of dollars to benefit veteran inpatients through making and selling popcorn each week,” Thomas said. “He also currently serves as an information desk ambassador … He greets and offers assistance to medical center visitors.”
Savarino has volunteered more than 13,000 hours at the center thus far. “The way I look at it, these guys all had to go into the service,” Savarino said. “[With] my age compared to theirs, they’re all youngsters.” He also told the local news media, “I choose to volunteer here because I felt I should help them out. Many of these guys can’t remember what the service was like. I like to help them remember.”
Savarino has two children (one of whom is still alive), three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He says he is looking forward to his next goal of reaching 105 years old.
Savarino is not the only World War II veteran who is giving back to his community.
For example, earlier this year, World War II vet Arthur Seidman celebrated his 100th birthday in February. Seidman volunteers in the surgical waiting room at a hospital in Great Neck, New York. He's volunteered at Northwell Health for over 20 years, putting in more than 14,000 hours at the clinic.