Beaumont, other VA clinics, in need of volunteer drivers. Why doesn’t anyone answer the call?

At the moment I am sitting here in Beaumont rather than awaiting my appointment at the Houston VA hospital. I cancelled the appointment I had with the Sleep Clinic yesterday. I haven’t had a follow-up since I was first diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2000. Everything is okay in the sleep department. I just need a follow-up so I have had to reschedule — to a June appointment. My reason for rescheduling is a lack of transportation.

I have a pick-up truck and a work car, the latter is for “Official Use Only” if you get my drift, the truck is a 1998 Toyota Tacoma. It gets me around town but it also needs some work. I am just not sure about taking it on a 80-mile trip,  most of which is interstate highway and Houston traffic. I took a Greyhound last time. The trip wasn’t bad at all. I took a Metro light rail train and switched to a bus, all in all 30 minutes to the hospital. The same on the way back. I left about 8 a.m. that day and got back around 6 p.m. And, I didn’t have to drive in that ridiculous Houston rush hour traffic. The cost was $36 round trip. When I looked last week, the price was up to about $45. Still, not a lot but higher than I could cough up at the time. I even put an ad on and got no reply.

So why didn’t I take the van that takes patients from the VA clinic in Beaumont to the Houston VA hospital? Well, the lady who is firmly in charge of the program at the clinic, a volunteer, told me the month of December was all booked up. What are the rest of us supposed to do? Cancel, I guess.

The reason, I was later told, is that the volunteer driver program through the service organization Disabled American Veterans, is down to only one driver. There is another van sitting in the parking lot of the Beaumont VA clinic but it doesn’t go bye-bye because there is no volunteer driver to make it go bye-bye. It has been that way for awhile. That makes me wonder why? There is a flyer posted on the Houston VA Web site with the following information:

 Voluntary Service Van Drivers

Help pick-up outpatients receiving treatments or therapy and other outpatient appointments. To fill this role, you must have a current, valid Texas driver’s license, must be 18 years or older, have automobile insurance and pass a physical exam. Hours vary.
We are looking for volunteer drivers for the following locations:

Beaumont, TX               Willis, TX
Woodville, TX                Conroe, TX
Lake Jackson, TX           Texas City, TX
Galveston, TX                Bay City, TX
Brazoria County, TX       Cleveland, TX
Waller County, TX

If you would like to become a volunteer van driver please contact the volunteer office at 713-794-7135.

I am at a loss as to why, that in a metropolitan area of almost 390,000 people, one volunteer cannot be found to drive the other van. It doesn’t look all that demanding although most drivers I have seen in the past were a little older veterans. Whether it is more demanding on them, I can’t say. I don’t know whether the VA really finds that veterans getting to their appointments in Houston is a priority. Surely this Web page isn’t the only site where this call for volunteers can be found? If I didn’t have the physical problems I have, I would volunteer. Or so I think.

In the end, I don’t suppose I would find out the answer to what the problem is unless I ask. Even then, I am not so sure I would get the full explanation. Whether there are ulterior motives at the Beaumont Clinic, the Houston VA hospital or both, I can’t say. I just hope the problem gets solved in time for my next appointment.


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