HANCOCK COUNTY — The county’s veterans service office is in dire need of volunteers to drive veterans to medical appointments in Indianapolis.
Bob Workman, Hancock County veterans service officer, said there are currently only two volunteer drivers and that he’d like to build a roster of at least five or six.
Participating is easy, Workman said. Drivers pick up veterans at their residences in the veterans service office’s Ford Flex and drive them to appointments at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Indianapolis.
“It’s a very good cause,” Workman said. “It’s not a full-time thing; it’s when you have time.”
The veterans in need of rides can walk, he said, but can’t drive due to disabilities or a lack of transportation.
Volunteers wait until veterans’ appointments are over before driving them home. Waits can be up to three to four hours, but volunteers get a free breakfast or lunch while they’re at the VA.
Drivers don’t have to be veterans or service members, but there are some requirements, including a background investigation, driver’s license check and free physical examination. The full list of requirements and more information on volunteering, including a volunteer interest form, is available at indianapolis.va.gov/giving/Volunteer.asp.
It’s difficult to tell exactly how many veterans in the county rely on the service, Workman said.
“Some people maybe only go once a year,” he said. “Other people got diabetes and kidney problems and have to go in for treatments.”
He estimated the county’s two volunteers transport about 25 to 30 veterans a month.
“We’ve been trying to accommodate everybody as best we can,” Workman said.
Those interested in volunteering can also call Mike McCarley, who’s in charge of the Hancock County volunteer drivers, at 317-964-1522. The U.S. Navy Vietnam War veteran has been taking veterans to appointments for the Past several years. He said the service just recently started getting back up and running again after being down for about a year due to COVID-19.
“Some of the guys don’t have a car,” McCarley said. “And some of the guys, due to their age, hitting downtown Indianapolis at 8 o’clock in the morning is too much for them. And some of them, it’s because of eyesight and health issues.”
Many of them are Korean War veterans in their 80s, he added.
“I just try and help these guys out,” he said. “They can’t get there without me, is about what it boils down to.”