DAV needs drivers to help veterans

Shantel McJunkins (right), VA Voluntary Service specialist, helps Marine veteran Dennis Hammons (left) fill out an application to become a new DAV volunteer driver recently at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa. 

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) supports the Department of Veterans Affairs by providing transportation for veterans to VA medical appointments. However, DAV is in need of more volunteer drivers to meet the growing transportation needs of veterans in Eastern Oklahoma.

To recruit more drivers, DAV, the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System (EOVAHCS) and Muskogee VA Regional Office teamed up to hold a “Drive a Hero” recruitment drive and VA Claims Clinic recently at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa.

VA staff assisted veterans with disability claims, processed driver applications, conducted driver training and also performed physicals for drivers.

“It’s a golden opportunity for us to continue our long relationship and partnership with VA,” said Danny Oliver, Oklahoma State Adjutant for DAV. “But more importantly, it’s an opportunity for us to help bring our community together to serve those who have defended our freedoms.”

The Ernest Childers VA Outpatient Clinic in Tulsa has five DAV volunteer drivers, while the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center has none at this time.

“DAV volunteers are very important because we have veterans who are unable to drive or have no other form of transportation,” said Nita McClellan, chief of Public Affairs and Voluntary Service for EOVAHCS. "DAV picks the veteran up at their home, brings them to the VA to get the care they need, and then delivers them back to their residence. Having this service is a huge benefit to our veterans.”

DAV needs drivers to help veterans

Regina Sallee, Service Support specialist with the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, provides driver training to Disabled American Veterans volunteers recently at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa.

While DAV drivers aren’t compensated financially, Oliver said it’s an opportunity for the community to make a difference in the lives of our veterans.

“The first time a volunteer takes that veteran, who they know needs that ride, and that veteran says thank you, you can’t put a price tag on that,” Oliver said. “You’re being thanked by a hero. Volunteering a few hours a week is a small price to pay to serve those who protected us.”

Marcus Lutz, who served in the Army and Oklahoma Air National Guard, attended the outreach event and registered to be a new DAV driver.

DAV needs drivers to help veterans

Jana Burk, medical technologist with the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, gives Marcus Lutz a TB skin test recently at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa. VA staff performed physicals for Disabled American Veterans drivers and new volunteers. Lutz, who served in the Army and Oklahoma Air National Guard, volunteered to be a new DAV driver.

“If I can help another vet, why not do it,” said Lutz. “I’m retired and hey, everybody needs help.”

Marine Veteran Dennis Hammons also volunteered to be a new driver.

“Veterans need to take care of veterans,” Hammons said. “In the military, there is a creed, we don’t leave anyone behind.”

To learn how to become a DAV volunteer driver, call 918-577-3621/3622. You do not have to be a veteran to volunteer.

VA also operates the Veterans Transportation Service (VTS) for veterans with special needs and veterans who don’t have transportation to and from their outpatient appointments at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.

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