Event will celebrate easier access to medical care for veterans

One of the most common requests the Centre County Office of Veterans’ Affairs receives is for help with transportation to medical appointments.

A new van will make it easier for local veterans to go to medical appointments in Altoona or Pittsburgh. An event celebrating the van will be held on Sunday.

A collaborative effort between that office, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Community Help Centre and the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) has enabled the purchase of a van, which will be used to transport local veterans to Altoona, so they can go to appointments at the VA medical center there, or they can go on from there for appointments at the Pittsburgh VA medical center.

The van will arrive this week, and begin service in mid-september. To mark the new arrival, the groups involved are holding a celebration at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Willowbank Building, 420 Holmes St., in Bellefonte. The event will include a dedication of the van and a talk from Centre County commissioners, as well as cake and refreshments, and will be held rain or shine.

“The anniversary of 9/11 seems like an appropriate date to bring people together for something to help veterans,” said RSVP Director Brian Querry, adding, “It’s our way of presenting this to the community and recognizing the people who brought this together.”

Local organizations raised $20,000, including a $4,000 grant from the Centre County Community Foundation, to put toward the project, and the State District Office of DAV contributed the other $20,000.

The program currently has 10 drivers who have made it through the screening process, which includes a medical screening and background check, and 8 or 9 others who are going through the process now. Querry expects the van to be used at least once or twice a week, but thinks more people may ask for the service once word gets around about it.

Interested in scheduling an appointment to use the van? Call Community Help Centre at 1-800-494-2500 or 814-237-5855. Interested in volunteering to be a driver? Call RSVP at 814-355-6816.

-Erin

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