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Brazos Valley veterans need your help to get to doctor’s appointments

Temple VA recruiting volunteer drivers to transport veterans for medical appointments
Published: Jun. 2, 2021 at 2:27 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 5:58 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -Transportation for some veterans can be a challenge for numerous reasons. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a volunteer shortage nationwide in all aspects of service-related initiatives.

According to the Average Wait Times at Individual Facilities dashboard on the veteran’s administration’s website, the average wait time for an appointment at the Veterans Hospital in Temple is 48 days and 11 days at the Bryan-College Station VA Clinic. For veterans, missing a doctor’s appointment can lead to severe medical issues and a lengthy wait for another appointment.

The Temple VA Hospital is recruiting volunteer drivers to transport veterans for medical appointments. Reginald Hardy, Chief of Voluntary Service with the VA Hospital in Temple, said that the Brazos Valley lost over half of its volunteers when the pandemic started.

“The problem we’re having now is when COVID hit, we had to shut the program down, a lot of our volunteers were a little bit older and everything. So a lot of them said that they weren’t going to come back. So now we’re getting a big push on to recruit younger drivers to drive our veterans into their appointments,” said Hardy. “In the Brazos Valley area, we started out with 15 drivers. I believe now it’s down to six, but this is why we’re making that big push for recruitment.”

Al Diaz, chaplain for the Brazos Valley Marine Corps League Detachment 1391, says he made the trip to Temple transporting fellow veterans for two days a week for several years until he could no longer drive. Diaz says it’s an experience he would continue if he could and encourages anyone that wants to give back to veterans in a meaningful way to volunteer to drive.

“The enjoyment speaking to all the veterans, trying to make their day and keep them happy,” said Diaz. “Just helping the veterans and the community you know to step up, and the veterans would really appreciate them doing it.”

Doris Carter, information officer for the Brazos Valley Marine Corps League Detachment 1391, says if 30 people volunteered just one day out of the month, that would be a big help.

“Everyone knows that Temple is several miles away from here, and a lot of the elderly veterans and the disabled veterans, they’re just not able to do that distance of driving,” said Carter. “They can drive around town here, but going that amount of distance is too much.”

For more information or to become a volunteer driver, contact the Voluntary Service Office at 254-743-0515 or CTXVoluntaryStaff@va.gov, and visit www.centraltexas.va.gov/giving/index.asp.

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