The Disabled American Veterans transportation program is designed to assist veterans who have no other means of transportation in getting from Durango to the VA hospital in Albuquerque. The program tries to accommodate all veterans who request transportation.
The program also assists veterans in the Farmington, Aztec, Cortez and occasionally the Pagosa Springs and Cuba, N.M., areas with transportation needs to the VA hospital.
The drivers and the support staff for the program are all volunteers, most of them veterans themselves.
The Durango DAV van travels to the Albuquerque VA Hospital on Tuesday and Thursday. Transportation can be coordinated via the Farmington DAV van on Monday and Wednesday. The specific departure time varies based on the earliest scheduled appointment and the number of pickups along the way. The assigned driver will contact the riders the day before the trip and give each rider the specific departure time based on the above information.
Because of travel-time issues, it is best if appointments in Albuquerque are scheduled no earlier than 10 a.m. and no later than 1 p.m. if the veteran wishes to make it back home the same day. DAV/VA policy stipulates that the DAV van must depart the VA hospital no later than 2 p.m. daily for driver and passenger safety.
It is very important for the veteran to call and schedule a ride as soon as he or she knows the date of the appointment at the VA hospital. Adequate notice and clear information when scheduling a ride is critical for the program to work, and transportation is based on space availability. Veterans must call at least 48 hours before the day of their appointments if they wish to travel in the van.
The DAV transportation coordinator needs specific information when a veteran requests a ride to the VA hospital. The veteran must provide his or her name, last four digits of the Social Security number, address, phone numbers, date and time of appointment and the clinic the veteran will be treated in.
Rides can be scheduled by calling the transportation coordinator for the appropriate area: La Plata and San Juan County, (970) 442-0149; Montezuma County, (970) 676-1116; and the Farmington/Aztec area, (505) 793-1782. If the phone is not answered, the veteran should leave a detailed message with the above information, and the coordinator will call back to verify and schedule the ride. Keep in mind that the Durango VA Clinic does not do the scheduling.
Richard Schleeter is the veterans service officer for the La Plata County Veterans Service Office. He can be reached at 759-0117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.