Veterans in Jackson County need you.
The Jackson County Veterans Service Office is in need of volunteers to drive local veterans to doctors appointments at Veterans Affairs hospitals in Louisville, New Albany and Scottsburg.
The office provides a van, and volunteers must have a driver’s license and a clean driving record.
The number of volunteers has declined over the years — down to three or four to be exact — and the agency is in need of drivers to take veterans to their doctors appointments, said Jackson County Veterans Service Officer Keith Boling.
“Some of our veterans don’t have transportation or are older,” he said. “We could use up to 10 or more because it never hurts to have them.”
Boling said the agency transports 117 veterans to appointments throughout the year.
“That number can fluctuate,” he said.
Some weeks, they have a large number of work, and other weeks, they have a lighter appointment schedule.
Appointments must be within a window of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We cut the time off at 1 p.m. so drivers are not there exactly all day,” Boling said.
Boling has been providing more and more of the rides for veterans lately because of the lack of volunteers.
“I’ve always done that, but I’m doing more of it,” he said. “We’ve been carrying through.”
But all of the trips to transport veterans to the hospital has taken time away from helping other veterans process benefits.
The office assists veterans with health care and disability benefits linked to their military careers, Boling said. It also helps with federal rules and appeals processes.
Plus, the office helps families after a veteran dies if they qualify for benefits.
While they only transport veterans from Jackson County, the office does not turn down any veteran for assistance.
“Any veteran that comes into this office, we try to help them with the benefits in this office,” Boling said, adding the appointment transportation is only available to veterans in Jackson County.
Veterans from Scott County come to the office for assistance because that county does not have a service officer, he said.
He anticipates more from the Columbus area because that office just recently lost its officer after Bartholomew County commissioners fired Tom Crawford last week.
The Bartholomew County office has three part-time employees.
Boling said he received three calls right away.
He said the agency utilized two dedicated volunteers for years, but one moved to Florida, and the other died.
“One was a veteran, and the other a truck driver that would be here any time,” he said. “They both volunteered here for 20 years.”
Boling said the agency has relied on older people to volunteer over the years because they seemed to have more time. He has seen a shift in the older generation’s availability.
“Even the older population that used to volunteer is not able to anymore because they’re returning to work,” he said, adding the agency recently has lost one volunteer due to similar circumstances.
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If you are interested in volunteering with the Jackson County Veterans Service Office:
Email: [email protected]
Office: 1222 W. Bloomington Road, Brownstown