CLEARFIELD – Clearfield County’s veterans are in dire need of volunteer drivers to take them to their medical appointments, according to Veterans Affairs Director Betina Nicklas.
The VA office currently has three volunteers in its Disabled American Veterans Transportation Network. The county has somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 veterans, she said.
The DAV volunteer transportation program assists veterans seeking treatment at the VAMC with their travel needs to their DuBois, Altoona and State College appointments.
“Veterans really rely on this service to get them there,” Nicklas said. “Many don’t drive, don’t have a car or shouldn’t be driving, and it’s critical because we have an aging population.”
According to her, veterans must be able to get in and out of the vehicle without assistance from the driver. Drivers don’t provide transportation in inclement weather or in the event of injury/illness
She said to be a volunteer: you must pass a physical examination at DAV standards (the cost is covered), and have a valid driver’s license and a clean record. Nicklas emphasized: “You don’t have to be a veteran to volunteer.
“It’s a way to give back … without volunteers our van cannot be moved.” Nicklas added it’d be a great opportunity for college students in need of community service hours or a resident with some spare time.
“But we really need volunteers because without them, some of our veterans cannot make it to their appointments. And, sometimes we have to say we’re sorry, we don’t have a driver … so this is why I’m asking the community.”
Nicklas said volunteers can donate a couple of hours a month to take a veteran to an appointment or two. Commissioner Mark B. McCracken said the VA office would like a “roster” to work with versus leaning on a couple people.
“If you have the time, it’s really enjoyable to spend some time or a day with a veteran,” he said. Nicklas added several love to talk with their drivers and share their stories.
For more information, please call 814-765-4611.