The DAV of Minnesota Northwest Transportation Program serves fifteen rural Northwestern Minnesota Counties providing transportation for veterans and their families needing medical care at the VA Medical Centers in St. Cloud, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota. Prior to this program, access to basic medical care due to lack of transportation was a common concern of veterans in rural Northwestern Minnesota.
Three new Ford Flex seven passenger vans were purchased with donations from the Minnesota Disabled American Foundation, National DAV Columbia Trust Foundation, Minnesota Veterans for Veterans Trust Fund, several local DAV chapters, local businesses, and donations from the annual DAV golf classic, i.e. Tee it up for The Troop.
The three vans are stored and depart from Bemidji, Park Rapids, and Wheaton Minnesota to the Fargo North Dakota and St. Cloud Minnesota Veterans Medical Centers as needed. Each rural route has designated stops along the way. The program provides veterans in Northwestern Minnesota rural communities the means and way to receive the care they need at no cost to them. Feedback from the veterans and County Veteran Service Officers in Northwestern Minnesota has been extremely positive. “This effort is truly improving the quality of life for many veterans and their families and provides the DAV of Minnesota a great opportunity to act on its purpose of fulfilling the promises they have made to those men and women who have served our Country.”
Pictured above is one of the three Ford Flex vans placed in Park Rapids, Bemidji, and Wheaton Minnesota.
The rides are free to any veteran having an appointment at any one the VA Medical Centers. In addition, if an appointment is made by the VA for the veteran to go to other healthcare providers in the area, we can drive them to that appointment also explained, Daniel Wood, transportation coordinator based in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Mr. Wood went on to say “Once our veterans are picked up, the van driver stays until the veteran’s appointments are complete.”
The Northwestern Minnesota transportation program began transporting veterans on November 13, 2013. During 2014, volunteer drivers have transported over 344 veterans and driven over 46,254 miles in an effort to provide veterans the care they need. Feedback from the veterans and County Veteran Service Officers has been extremely positive. The program is now providing veterans in NW rural communities the means and way to receive the care they need at no cost to them, explained Stephen Whitehead, DAV of Minnesota Adjutant and Executive Director. Mr. Whitehead went on to say “On a Statewide basis, the DAV in partnership with the Minnesota counties, provided in 2014, transportation to over 18,000 veterans, over 1.1 million miles, thanks to volunteer drivers who have contributed over 53,000 volunteer hours providing this service.” “This effort is truly improving the quality of life for many veterans and their families and provides the DAV of Minnesota a great opportunity to act on its purpose of fulfilling the promises they have made to those men and women who have served our Country.”
Our van drivers are all volunteers and are certified by passing a medical and driving examination. The DAV is always looking for volunteer drivers and you don’t have to be a veteran in order to drive, explained, Daniel Wood, transportation coordinator. Mr. Wood went on to say “To schedule a ride, veterans should call as early as possible to ensure room is available for transportation to their medical appointment.”
If you have questions about the Northwestern Minnesota Veterans Transportation Program or need a ride, call 855-227-9787.