JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A service vital to the survival of Region 8 veterans will continue thanks to the support of the community.
Jonesboro and Craighead County officials gathered with community members Thursday to celebrate the arrival of a new van for the Disabled American Veterans chapter in Jonesboro.
DAV Driver Loyd Davis said they provide a necessary service to the veterans in Region 8.
"People who have served our country in the military are now in need of assistance," Davis said. "We carry our veterans to the VA in Little Rock on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We're able to take them to Little Rock in the van. "
Tuesdays and Thursdays an additional van runs to Memphis.
"This past year," Davis said. "We took approximately 450 veterans to the hospital and back in Little Rock and a little over 200 going to Memphis. So, we service anywhere from 600 to 700 veterans annually getting them to the places that they need to be to get their health taken care of."
Davis said we need to show our veterans we appreciate their sacrifice by stepping up in their hour of need.
"These veterans have already served their country," Davis said. "Many of them have sacrificed a great deal more than what we might even imagine. Now they come back and go back to work and start having problems. They have physical problems, much of it brought on by their service. The freedoms we enjoy are due to our veterans. So, this is something we want to do and help provide to them and their families."
Davis said this new van was needed to replace an older one.
"The last van we had," Davis said. "The one that we're replacing had 175,000 miles on it. It was still in decent shape, but at the same time, it's not going to keep carrying veterans at 950 miles a week for much longer. It was time to replace it."
Davis said the drivers are all volunteers.
"As a driver, we love what we do," Davis said. "It's all volunteer. There's no pay for it. This is something we do because we want to help veterans. I'm so thankful for the DAV and what it means to our community."
And they need more drivers than what they have!
"We have a real need for drivers," Davis said. "We service Northeast Arkansas. And we need somebody to drive the vans. Right now, we've got active drivers that can drive from time to time. One of those drivers is incapacitated right now because of an injury. If we could get 20 people to drive, no one would drive more than one day a month."
The new van was made possible by city and county donations.
"If it was not for these vans," Davis said. "Many of these riders would not be able to get to the hospital. And many of them may not have the opportunity to go."
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