New van provides comfortable ride for veteransSeptember 17, 2018
By CANDY NEAL
The original Disabled American Veterans van that started taking veterans to Veteran Affairs hospital and clinic appointments has been replaced.
The 20-year-old van was replaced with a new van, a Ford Flex, last week. The new van’s maiden voyage was to the Louisville VA Medical Center on Thursday.
“This van is vital to veterans,” County Veterans Affairs Officer Bob Johnson said, “especially for those who have to go to the VA hospital. It is an hour and a half to the Louisville hospital. To be able to go in a little bit of comfort is helpful to them.”
The former van, which was white and had an American flag painted on the side, was the original van used when the ride program started in July 1998. “It had close to 180,000 miles,” Johnson said.
The new van is gray, green and white, and has the silhouettes of soldiers on the side. It has two bench seats along with the driver and front passenger seat. It will be able to transport five or six veterans and the driver, Johnson said.
The new van will be easier for veterans to get in and out.
“It’s about a foot lower to the ground (than the former van). That’s much safer, especially during the winter times,” Johnson said. “When you have an 80-year-old who needs to go to the VA, it makes a huge difference in comfort, to be able to get in there and ride in comfort.”
Donations from the county and St. Charles Health Campus covered $16,000 of the van’s purchase; the rest of the $32,000 cost was covered by funding coordinated by the national DAV.
“We appreciate the donations that helped us get this,” Johnson said.
The new van takes veterans to a couple Louisville centers as well as to VA clinics in New Albany and Scottsburg. A second van that is affiliated with the VA medical center in Marion, Illinois, takes veterans to the VA clinic in Evansville.
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