Drivers needed for veterans’ van program

Drivers needed for veterans’ van program

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Drivers are needed for a program crucial for area veterans who need transportation to Veterans Administration hospitals.

The Disabled American Veterans Chapter 63 provides daily rides to and from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Birmingham.

The driver remains at the hospital until every veteran who rode in the van has had that day’s checkup completed.

The program has been a great success, but finds itself running low on drivers.

Mark Moore, a disabled veteran and former post commander, said the program once had 15 drivers. That number dropped to six because of illnesses and other medical conditions.

“That means if any driver needs off, someone else has to drive two times a week,” Moore said. “That’s asking a lot. An average trip down there and back is 10 to 12 hours.”

The program recently received a major boost when fundraising efforts produced more than $30,000 for a new van, DAV officials said.

Moore said he is seeking someone willing to dedicate at least four days each month toward driving the 11-passenger van.

“This is a volunteer job,” he said. “Veterans and non-veterans can drive this unit.”

He said drivers must be at least 21 and pass a physical examination from the Veterans Administration.

“Our veterans who are disabled, or have other medical needs, have served us for our freedom,” Moore said. “Now is the time to step up and help those in need. This is an honorable position to help with.”

Program organizers also are in the process of planning a route to the new Huntsville Veterans Administration Office, he said.

Anyone interested in volunteering as a driver, or making a donation, may call 256-381-8229.

Often, trips to the Veterans Administration hospital involve treatment for ailments and injuries that occurred in the line of duty.

In addition, volunteers help veterans as they go through the process and paperwork involved in registering and receiving treatment.

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