ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: Locals step up to help veterans

Columbus Republic

This editorial was originally published May 28 in The (Columbus) Republic.

The original editorial planned for today’s Republic never materialized — the community stepped up far before our call to action could make print.

This past Sunday, we published a story on how local veterans have found it increasingly difficult to get round-trip rides to the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis for medical appointments.

Volunteers have driven a county-owned, 12-passenger van over the years, but due to COVID-19 the number of volunteers shrank from 14 to fewer than five in recent months. In addition, due to an increased number of in-person visits, the wait times have increased for patients at the VA; making it tougher for many volunteers to dedicate their time to helping.

A significant number of local veterans regularly use the service to receive a variety of treatments.

Last month, the Veteran Services office transported 22 veterans to the VA medical facility while younger veterans tended to visit Wakeman VA Clinic at Camp Atterbury near Edinburgh. While Wakeman is a shorter drive, some procedures such as therapy treatments and X-rays can only take place at Roudebush.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long for citizens to mobilize and solve the issue.

By Monday morning, a plan was put together to make sure that no veteran would miss an appointment anytime soon.

Toyota Material Handling North America has offered to provide drivers for the trip, and dozens of volunteers have also called asking how they can help, Veteran Services Officer Larry Garrity reported Monday during the county commissioners meeting.

It’s heartening to see both big corporations and everyday citizens willing to work together to help our veterans.