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Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center

 

Volunteer Transportation Network

A group of 7 men and 1 woman stand in front of a large van in a parking lot overlooking a view of the sky, mountain, and various buildings in the background behind the van.

Volunteer Transportation Network Drivers from left to right, front row: Paul St. Patrick, Jersey Shore PA; Virginia Crate, Coopersburg PA; and Arnold Tornvall, Carbondale PA; back row: John Sedon, Hudson PA; Jeffrey Behnke, Lake Ariel PA; Paul Hankey, DAV VTN Coordinator, Swoyersville PA; and Arthur Williams, Lansford PA.

By Melanie L. Thomas
Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, has partnered with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to combat some common life stressors that often times get in the way of a Veteran’s ability to receive their VA care.

One of the ways that VAMC Wilkes-Barre supports Veterans in difficult situations is through the Volunteer Transportation Network program. This volunteer based program is managed by a Hospital Service Coordinator who assembles volunteer drivers and matches them up with a disabled Veteran’s hospital transportation request. Each week, approximately 200 Veterans are served through this program.

Volunteer Transportation Network drivers are inspired to participate in the program for many reasons. Korean Conflict and Vietnam Veteran George Barthlenghi, counts his blessings every day. “Each morning I get up to drive, I feel satisfaction in knowing that I am giving back to those who have sacrificed so much. I am so fortunate to be in a position where I can serve disabled Veterans.” 

U.S. Army Veteran and volunteer driver Arnold Tornvall explains that his investment in the program is a personal one. “Maybe one day I’ll be in the same situation as some of the guys I drive for, and perhaps the favor will be returned.”

Others are motivated to volunteer because they are familiar with some of the struggles that Veteran patients face. Hospital Service Coordinator Paul Hankey is a disabled Veteran who is committed to providing transportation to as many Veterans as possible. Hankey hopes to expand the program through recruitment of new drivers. “Recruitment is a critical component to the future of the program and its ability to continue to impact the lives of our local Veterans.”

VAMC Wilkes-Barre is dedicated to helping the program continue to flourish. New driving opportunities are now available to any individual who agrees to serve on an approved Regularly Scheduled assignment, has a valid driver’s license, possesses a good driving record, keeps a current auto insurance policy, and can pass a medical evaluation. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer driver can contact Voluntary Service toll free at 1-877-928-2621, extension 7237.

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