Volunteer drivers needed to give rides to disabled veterans

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 5:53 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - For decades, disabled veterans have gotten free rides to medical appointments through the Disabled American Veterans Transportation Network.

Now the organization needs more volunteer drivers.

Joseph Brancato serves as the Watertown coordinator of the DAV’s Volunteer Transportation Network, having served in the Air Force during the Vietnam war.

Now he has dedicated himself to a different type of service

“Most of these veterans served our country. They’re in a situation now where one way or another they can’t get themselves to their appointments. Anybody that can help out is greatly appreciated,” he said.

One veteran using the service can’t drive to his appointments. He thanks the DAV Volunteer Transportation Network for helping his health and wallet.

“So it helps me get to appointments that would usually cost me about $10-$20 to get to if I went with a 3rd party like a taxi or Uber. It also helps me get to appointments that I wouldn’t be able to afford,” said Alexander Wiseman, a disabled veteran.

In Watertown, the DAV has plenty of cars. What they don’t have is enough drivers.

Brancato says he’d like to get at least 5 more. In places like Lewis County, they hardly have anyone.

“And whatever they can’t pick up, I’ve been filling in myself. It’s getting taxing,” he said.

Across the state, the DAV has seen a shortage of volunteer drivers. Bill Gleason, head of recruitment for the organization at the VA in Syracuse says volunteering is a fulfilling experience.

“It settles me good to really look at these people and say I helped. I gave them a ride,” he said.

In order to volunteer you have to be at least 21 years old. If you’re interested, give Gleason a call at 315-425-4343.