BECKLEY, WV – Gov. Jim Justice took part in a ceremony today at the Beckley VA Medical Center to unveil and hand over the keys to 13 new vans that will be used by a group of volunteers to transport disabled or injured West Virginia veterans to their appointments at VA medical facilities across the state.
“These vans, they’re lifelines,” Gov. Justice said at the event. “We should do anything, at any time, that our veterans ever ask us to do.
“They have stood up for us in every single way, we need to always stand up for them.”
The program will be operated through the Volunteer Transportation Network within the national organization, Disabled American Veterans – or DAV.
The new fleet of vans will be stationed at various VA hospitals across the state, with the Beckley hospital receiving four, the Clarksburg hospital receiving five, and the Huntington hospital receiving four. The DAV determined that the state’s other VA hospital location in Martinsburg is currently not in need of any additional transport vehicles at this time.
The transportation program allows veterans to be taken to appointments at any of the four hospitals, as well as 10 VA community-based outpatient clinics in West Virginia.
Back in December 2018, Gov. Justice announced the state planned to renew its partnership with the DAV to allow the group to transport disabled veterans to and from medical appointments at VA Hospitals in Clarksburg, Beckley, Martinsburg and Huntington. The DAV began making transports in July of this year, using three vans that the volunteer organization provided itself.
In the meantime, Gov. Justice worked to secure funding for the DAV to allow the group to purchase the 10 new vans that were added to their fleet today.
“Today is a good day,” Gov. Justice said. “Here you’ve got people who have given every single thing in the world to us and they want almost nothing.
“I mean it when I say: whatever in the world I can do, when you call, I’m going to do it.”
The DAV, which operates in all 50 states, will use its volunteer network to provide drivers at no cost to West Virginia.
Prior to 2014, the DAV operated the van transportation program in West Virginia, but state officials decided at that time that the state would take over operations.
Now, with the DAV program back in place, Department of Veterans Assistance Secretary Dennis Davis says it will allow the state to provide better access to medical care for its veterans. Davis also announced that his Department intends to find further funding to purchase even more vans in the future.