VA looking for drivers to ferry vets to clinic

The Veterans Administration needs volunteer drivers to transport veterans from their residences to the local Community Based Outpatient Clinic in North Warren and to the VA medical centers in Erie, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Unfortunately, the number of drivers is decreasing, and this year up to 16 trips are scheduled weekly, with a monthly passenger count exceeding 100.

Larry Neal, hospital services coordinator for the VA, said that of the current 17 drivers, most are over 70 years old. Several will travel south for the winter, one drives a school bus and is not available for many trips, and one recently died. Within the next few months, this number will be reduced to nine drivers.

He added that the three vans are sometimes on the road five days a week. One, a 2013 Ford Flex has been in service for about a year, and already has over 44,000 miles. A 2008 Ford Taurus has 106,000 miles.

The trips will transport one to four people, depending on their individual appointments.

“In August, there were about 25 veterans a week to transport, with an average of 10 trips a week. Frequently the trips are to Buffalo and Pittsburgh to see specialists,” he noted.

He explained that volunteer drivers receive an annual physical exam, paid for by the VA, to insure that they are physically capable of driving.

There is also a need for volunteer office assistants.

To obtain more information and application forms, contact Neal at 723-1529, or Karen O’Neal, volunteer services coordinator for the Erie VAMC at 814-860-2454.