Volunteers can help close ranks: Renewed state program to partner with DAV July 1 to transport veterans to VA hospitals

FOR MORE INFO  call DAV Transportation at the Clarksburg VA medical center at 304-623-7623; the Huntington VA facility at 304-429-6741, Ext. 2952; or go tovolunteerforveterans.org.

“It’s easy to make a buck.  It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.”

If that sounds like the kind of thinking you would expect from a member of the Greatest Generation, it’s actually attributed to the author of the book on that generation. And as you might have guessed he was commenting on the hallmark characteristic of that generation: Volunteering.

Last week, the state Department of Veterans Assistance announced it’s seeking volunteer drivers to transport disabled veterans to and from medical appointments at VA medical centers.

The state plans to resume partnering with the nonprofit Disabled American Veterans (DAV) July 1 to provide veterans transportation.

What changes with this move is a shift from paying drivers a stipend to take veterans to medical centers to doing so on a volunteer basis.

The money that is saved from paying drivers a stipend will go instead toward buying a new fleet of vans to transport veterans

The program will help take disabled veterans to and from the state’s VA medical centers in Beckley, Clarksburg, Huntington and Martinsburg.

There are about 400 to 500 veterans who need a ride to one of these VA hospitals daily

So, the state and DAV partnerships will be needing anywhere from 400 to 500 volunteers to cover that.

The state is recommending only asking for a one-day per month commitment per volunteer, but there is no maximum commitment to be a  driver.

Volunteers must have a valid driver’s license, be  21 or older, pass a physical exam and be able to be insured as a driver (personal insurance is not required).

Prior to 2014 the state was a member of the DAV network, but as a result of a state program to pay drivers a stipend, it was not allowed to continue in the program.

After a recent review of the state’s effort to operate the program alone a lack of oversight of the vehicles was discovered.

Meanwhile, the lion’s share of the state program’s $750,000 budget was being used for salaries — not to replace older vehicles.

We call on  volunteers across the state to step up as drivers to help out disabled veterans via this renewed partnership with the DAV.

Obviously, you are never going to make a dollar transporting veterans to and from these hospitals.

But you are going to make a difference in a veteran’s life and your own.

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