HATTIESBURG, MISS. – Friday VFW Post 3026 held a dedication for a new VFW VA Medical Transport van that will help dozens of veterans to get to the VA Medical Center in Jackson, Miss.
From 2001 to 2014 the VA-enrolled veteran population increased by 78 percent.
“So, we cover two-thirds of the state, so within the area that we cover, outside of Jackson it is the largest concentration of veterans and that's over 5,000 in our clinic,” Dr. David Walker, center director for the VA medical facility in Jackson said.
Many of the 5,000 veterans come from the Hub-city, looking for a way to get to the VA center in Jackson for medical attention, which explains why reliable transportation is so valuable.
“I think I was probably one of the last person's to drive it, and it had 216,000 plus miles on it,” veteran shuttle bus driver, Jack Vandevender said. “It had been around for about 11-and-a half years. The service that it rendered was excellent, but it was time to be replaced.”
After a year of raising money, the VA purchased a new medical transport van, which takes 20 people a week on two separate days to the Jackson VA center for medical appointments. This form of free transportation takes 1,000 people to the VA Medical Center in Jackson each year.
“This is a way for us to provide access to what we call specialty care, and that can surgical sub-specialty care or medicine sub-specialty care,” Walker said. “There is some care we can provide using technology, but sometimes the technology isn't enough and you need to have that in-person appointment. That’s what this is for.”
A service the VFW Post 3026 provided veterans for ten years, and thanks to this new van another ten years are more likely. Officials from the VA encourage veterans to go to vets.gov to find out more services they might be eligible for.