Transportation service now available for veterans

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 19, 2007

Lincoln County supervisors may have dismissed a proposal toprovide transportation to the elderly earlier this month, butmilitary retirees and veterans may still have an option for travelto receive medical treatment.

The Adams County Veterans Service office is making bustransportation available for veterans.

“We’ve been running it on Tuesdays and Thursdays now for about aweek and a half,” said Earl Drane, veterans service officer forAdams County.

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The bus only runs to the Veterans Administration hospital inJackson, he said. The free transportation service is open to allveterans and allows for a person to accompany them.

However, the veterans will need to provide a letter from thehospital showing an appointment scheduled for that day at the timeof pickup. A second letter would be needed stating that the patientshould be accompanied before a companion would be allowed to boardwith him, Drane said.

“This is not an ambulance, so we can’t take someone needingimmediate treatment,” he said. “This is just a service we’reproviding to help veterans receive the treatment they need. Many ofour veterans cannot drive and cannot afford to travel toJackson.”

The service is also open to residents in surrounding counties ona space available basis, Drane said. However, they must call (601)754-1148 in advance to schedule the ride.

The bus leaves Adams County at 7 a.m. and arrives in Meadvillearound 7:30 a.m. at the veterans administration clinic. Pickup inBrookhaven is at 8 a.m. in the southwest corner of the Wal-Martparking lot.

The bus is scheduled to arrive in Jackson around 9 a.m.

“We haven’t run it enough to have set times yet so those aren’texact,” Drane said.

Provided there is sufficient demand, the bus can run a third daywhen necessary, he said.

“We’re flexible. If we see a patient load for a third day we cando that,” Drane said.

The veterans service officer said he is also looking forvolunteers to drive the buses.

“We have three drivers that are handling it regularly, but weneed backup,” he said.

The volunteers are required to take a certification coursebefore they can be used.

“It’s not like they can show up and say, ‘I’ll drive today,'”Drane said. “The drivers are well-versed in all privacy matters andcannot discuss the patient with anyone.”

The buses have been running virtually empty since the inceptionof the program, with an average of one patient per trip, Dranesaid. He believes, however, that as word of the service spreadsattendance will pick up.

The service is funded through a small appropriation of thecounties serviced by the program and through individual donations,he said.