Counties struggle to find volunteers to give veterans rides
WATERTOWN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - For those who’ve served, frequent trips to a VA hospital may be necessary. But with the ongoing pandemic and the lack of volunteers in some South Dakota counties, some veterans services offices are struggling to find rides for veterans.
Codington county is one of those areas. Currently there are four registered volunteers for the whole county, meaning that there may be limited options when it comes to scheduling rides.
Todd Rose is the Veterans Service Officer for the county. He says that while many have stepped up when needed to give rides, many times it’s fellow veterans having to drive each other.
“In times in the past, we’ve reached out to some of the local churches, put it in the church bulletin. Saying, ‘Hey, we’re looking for drivers.’ The local veterans organization is here. We put that out through them as well. But the caveat to that is they’re the ones needing the rides. So you’re pulling more veterans out there to get more veterans rides.” says Rose.
Often it can be a struggle to find available drivers. Veterans call in weeks ahead of time to the services office, to make sure that a ride can be lined up in time for their appointment. Rose says that often the office’s biggest asset is when the families of veterans step up, and are available to give them a ride.
“Families get busy, or maybe think they’re a little busier than what they could be. To maybe where, ‘I can take a day off of work and take my dad, or my uncle, or my brother,’ or somebody down to an appointment.” says Rose.
But for as much as Rose would like more volunteers to register with the office and be regularly available, that’s not the only way to help out. Rose says that not only can by giving a ride to a veteran, whether it be a neighbor or a family member, it’s saves the office resources and can be a bonding experience.
“They don’t have to be a volunteer driver through the VA, or the DAV, if they just take the time to take their veteran down themselves. They don’t have to go through all of the paperwork.” says Rose.
Drivers can register to be available as often as they want, and Rose says that by doing so would be giving back to their community. Anyone interested in becoming a driver to take veterans to their appointments can contact Todd Rose or the Codington County Veterans Service Office.
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