I am writing about our local veterans who live in rural areas in Buncombe County. My concern is that transportation availability is limited for vets for accessing health services and other essential destinations such as grocery stores. I am encouraging our citizens to help by volunteering to drive veterans in rural county locations.
Our veterans living in rural areas need access to essential health services. Reliable transportation is a missing link that often results in vets’ needs going unmet. Current transportation resources in Buncombe County are inadequate in reaching veterans over age 55 and one-third of those now returning from the Gulf Wars, all of whom reside in rural areas. Those vets who do not have family or friends able to take them by car may be unable to get to outpatient services for mental health, substance abuse, hypertension, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Here are two ways that individuals might help our vets:
1. One available service is the Disabled American Veterans program, which has qualifications for membership. If eligible, veterans can receive transportation services to all of the health services listed above. Our local DAV needs volunteers to taxi rural veterans to needed services. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the DAV Buncombe County Chapter No. 2 at 828-367-5591.
2. Not all veterans qualify for the DAV, nor are all transportation needs health-related. Veterans need groceries. Those interested in volunteering [to] transport veterans in remote locations can check with their church, synagogue, mosque or other spiritual community for opportunities.
If anyone knows a veteran who may need assistance, volunteering to take them to health services, grocery stores or shopping, [or] helping drive them is a way of giving thanks for their service to you and our country.
— Teresa Fliearman
Student in the Western Carolina University
Master of Social Work Program