By Rebecca Gitlen
July 23, 2012. The Disabled American Veterans of Watauga County are proud to announce their new Transportation Hotline for all veterans in Watauga County needing a ride to V.A. Hospitals in Johnson City, Tenn. and Asheville. The service is free of charge and available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
A 72-hour notification is required but they will work with you as needed. Dave Pickard, commander for the Watauga Chapter of veteran transportation, said that if a V.A. hospital has a cancellation for the next day, patients should still call in and request a ride. The hotline has two vehicles and 10 volunteer drivers, so they should be able to accommodate you.
The transportation system usually travels about 1,000 to 1,500 miles each month. They pick up about 25 veterans each month and are looking for more clients, Pickard said.
The veteran transporters also have a new Transportation Coordinator, Charles Norris, to set up your ride to the V.A. Hospitals.
“He’s personable and understands what people need,” Pickard said. “He’ll work with you.”
The veterans changed their telephone number to have a more dedicated phone line. The system is more centralized because the phone number is for a phone that the coordinator can pass on if he is out of touch.
The V.A. Hospitals furnish the transportation system’s gas, insurance and maintenance. The Disabled American Veterans of Watauga County had fundraisers on July 4 and veterans day to pay for the two vehicles.
Most of the 10 volunteer drivers are veterans, but anyone can sign up to be a driver. You’ll just need a background check and a physical which will be paid for.
This service is free to all veterans of Watauga County.
The phone number for the new Transportation Hotline is 828-964-5515 or 828-264-0304. Give them a call and set up a ride to the V.A. Hospital for your appointment.