Van for veterans good move by county

Military veterans deserve support for their service to the country. That includes getting the medical help they want and need at Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Veterans in Bartholomew County for years have sought such medical services at the Roudebush VA Medical Hospital in Indianapolis. And for years local residents volunteered to drive the veterans to their appointments and then back home.

About 200 veterans have relied on this assistance.

However, the number of volunteer drivers dropped off sharply over time as they found the federal requirements to be too burdensome. That meant many veterans couldn’t get to important appointments.

A van that had been previously used to transport Bartholomew County veterans was jointly owned by the VA hospital and the Disabled American Veterans Association. That meant many legal requirements had to be met by volunteers who wanted to serve as drivers, including:

  • Multi-day physical and health screenings in Indianapolis
  • Passing an FBI background and fingerprint check
  • Providing their own insurance coverage
  • Completing a volunteer orientation

With people no longer wishing to clear all those hurdles to serve as volunteer drivers, county officials had to come up with a solution.

The Bartholomew County Commissioners voted Jan. 22 to approve the purchase of a van to transport military veterans to VA hospital appointments.

The county is buying a 12-passenger van for $31,500 from the Bob Poynter Chrysler Dodge Ram Jeep Hyundai dealership in Columbus. The county will own it, which means it can set its own rules for volunteer drivers. That’s beneficial, and makes it more likely that more people will be willing to serve as volunteer drivers.

The commissioners’ decision to purchase the van was a welcome and wise one. Veterans deserve such help.