WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita woman who has given her life to volunteerism is being awarded for her job well done.
Better known as Sarge, Cynthia Brinley has racked up more than 35,000 volunteer hours at Wichita’s Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center.
“Whoever needs the help, that’s where I am,” said Brinley.
Brinley, 73, started helping out at the hospital in 1992 after serving in the Army for 21 years and graduating from Wichita State University with a degree in healthcare administration. She has volunteered throughout the medical center serving as the women’s veteran manager, an aid to the chaplain, and will soon help with the substance abuse center.
“It’s a great place to be, and I am happy to be here because I am around the military,” Brinley said. “I feel more at home being with the veterans.”
Brinley, a veteran herself, understands the need for good, quality care. She entered the military in 1966.
“I really decided to go into the Army when I was three years old. My mother wasn’t too keen on that idea, but she knew they weren’t going to change my mind,” she explained.
Brinley chose to go into the medical field of the Army. She said education and the chance to travel were motivating factors. She was soon thrust into it all.
“At the time I went in, we are talking 1966, we had been in Vietnam and 1966, 67, 68, 69 were really the bloodiest part of Vietnam, and we were losing more men than we could put on the ground daily. When I went to basic training, we were filling platoons of 40 women every two to three days to get them in the service so they could take the jobs here in the states, and the men could go over and fight,” she said.
After her time serving our country, Brinley chose to give back to those who serve. She is now the longest-serving volunteer at the VA since the hospital started keeping records in 1933.
“I started in April of 1992 and have gone as a volunteer up until today,” Brinley said.
Brinley hit the 35,000-hour mark on September 1, 2021. That would take an employee working 40 hours a week nearly 17 years to accomplish. Brinley does it all for free. KSN asked Brinley why she continued to serve.
“I have to be around the military community. It’s my life,” she said. “It makes me happy to make sure our women veterans or the women who served in the military get the care that they earned and should get.”
Brinley hopes her dedication inspires other females to join the military.
KSN asked her if she had any plans to retire from volunteering.
“If I don’t want to work, I don’t have to come in. When it’s snowing, I stay at the house,” she laughed.
Brinley said she works between 24 to 30 hours each week. She no longer goes in on Wednesdays because that is church day.