LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — The Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center in Plains Township is busy with veterans coming in for appointments, but getting there is a challenge for many of those veterans.
"We just want to service our veterans, and we want to be able to get them here to get the necessary appointments they need," said Lois Smyth, a coordinator for the volunteer group Disabled American Veterans.
The group runs a service that picks up vets and takes them to the VA. The program currently has 30 volunteers who drive the vans.
"We definitely need more. We're looking for some more down for our Tamaqua area, for Clarks Summit, Scranton area, and for our Honesdale area."
"With the number of drivers and the routes that we have, it is kind of hard to schedule veterans for appointments because there are only certain time slots you can schedule them, so it would be very beneficial to have more drivers so that we are able instead of making them wait an extra week or two," said Colleen Kudasik, Center for Development and Civic Engagement.
Michael Anthony Scarpe of West Hazleton is an Air Force veteran who visits the VA weekly for his appointments.
"I had surgery, I had a shunt put in my brain, and my neurosurgeon doesn't want me to be driving at this present time, so this is a great service for me to be able to get to my appointments until I am released to drive again," Scarpe said.
Volunteers must have a valid driver's license and a good driving record.
"A lot of our volunteers are veterans, so they understand the mission, and they are able to connect with the veteran patients that we have to there is always a good rapport."
You can find more information on how to volunteer here or contact the Center for Development and Civic Engagement office at (570) 821-7237.
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