Milwaukee VA 'in desperate need' of volunteers to drive veterans to hospital appointments

NOW: Milwaukee VA ’in desperate need’ of volunteers to drive veterans to hospital appointments

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Updated: 7:26 p.m. on March 26, 2021

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- It's a service for those who've served.

Volunteers with the Disabled American Veterans, or DAV, bring veterans to and from their appointments at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. But there aren't enough drivers.

"Anyone that's willing to volunteer their time, we are just really in desperate need of volunteers right now," said Patty Davis, hospital service coordinator for DAV. "It's very important because some of the veterans have no other way to get here to the VA."

Davis said because of the pandemic and because some of their drivers are getting older, the non-profit is down volunteers.

The DAV, which oversees the driving program, is seeking volunteers for the Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, and Milwaukee area, according to officials. The program is set up to give free rides to patients at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center and Union Grove Clinic. 

John Harvieux has been driving as a volunteer with DAV for three and a half years. 

"I didn't serve myself, but I wanted to give back and help out the people that did serve," he said. "I like doing it. I like driving, and I like helping people."

He said he typically drives once or twice a week. On Friday, March 26, Harvieux picked up veteran Willie Recker from his home, brought him to the VA and dropped him off back home once the appointment was over.

"I was there to see my eye doctor. I had an appointment. I hadn't seen my eye doctor in a whole year," Recker said.

Recker said without the service, he would have to take a two-hour bus ride to get to the VA.

"Once I got hooked up with DAV transportation, it's a whole lot better. They call you before they come out. They're there on time. They get you back home on time," he said.

Davis said DAV is looking for volunteers who can drive at least once or twice a month. They do not have to be veterans to volunteer. She said some volunteers drive all day from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

"Some volunteer one day or two days a week, or even once or twice a month. It’s a flexible schedule," Davis said. "Many of our volunteers say they love the camaraderie and friendships they create with the veterans. One volunteer just told me she loves hanging out with the vets and hearing their stories.”

DAV has nine set stops in the Racine and Kenosha area and goes directly to patient's homes for pick-up and return in Waukesha and Milwaukee, according to the VA.

Each year, the DAV transports nearly 15,000 veterans over 700,000 miles in the area, according to a news release from the VA.

Volunteers must pass a no-cost fingerprint background check, physical and road test.

Those who are interested can call Davis at 414-384-2000, ext. 45715. 

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