We kicked off the fourth season of "Volunteering in West Virginia
" with guest Dennis Davis, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance. He stopped by to tell us about the Veterans Transportation Network.
West Virginia ranks near the top of the list for Veterans per capita. Mr. Davis talked about returning veterans who are trying to reintegrate into civilian life, and many of them require a lot of assistance. Any veteran of any age, as long as they have been honorably discharged from the military, is eligible for benefits. Many veterans go without benefits because they have no way of getting around. The Veterans Transportation Network, a program of the Department of Veterans Assistance, is changing that.
"A lot of Veterans were avoiding the doctor. They were getting sicker. They were doing without the healthcare that was readily available for them, due to lack of transportation," said Davis. The Veterans Transportation Network exists for the purpose of taking veterans to the hospital or clinic.
Homelessness is an issue facing many veterans across the country. The Department currently has 16 offices throughout the state. They also operate a veterans’ home, for veterans who are homeless and have no place to go. The Department will house them, feed them, take them to doctor appointments, and help them with any educational needs.
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) only uses volunteers. No one is paid. While there are other volunteer opportunities within the program, they are primarily seeking drivers.
If you are interested in serving your veterans, your community, your country, you can contact the DAV to be a driver in the Veterans Transportation Network you must be 18 years old, have a driver’s license, and be insurable. You will also get a health examination to make sure you are capable to doing the required tasks. "So, if nothing else, you get a free physical exam," said Davis.
They are seeking as many volunteers as possible to kick off this new program on July 1, but after that, they will be looking for volunteers year-round.The time commitment is minimal at just one day per month. If you want to volunteer more, the program can happily accommodate you. If you would like to volunteer in the program please contact the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance at (304) 558-3661 to learn more.
In 1985, the DAV joined with the Veterans Administration to create this program. It is an all-volunteer program. In the early 2000s, West Virginia did start paying drivers, but as a result of that, they couldn’t participate in the program because DAV is supposed to be all volunteer run and operated. The program is now operating as originally intended.
A vehicle and gas are provided by the program. "One out of every 10 West Virginians is a veteran. West Virginians have always stepped up to the plate when their country has called on them to help," said Davis. This is a great opportunity to return the favor.
To see the full interview with Secretary Davis, click here