The generosity of area organizations became tangible Friday when the local branch of Veterans Affairs received a new transport vehicle free of charge.
Purchased more than two years ago but delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Ford Flex promises to provide reliable transportation for county veterans who need to travel to regional VA centers, including those in Lafayette, Brownsburg and Indianapolis.
Some need transportation due to health concerns. Some need it because they find Indianapolis traffic reprehensible.
Whatever the need, Montgomery County Veterans Service Officer Joe Ellis says any one of three drivers will get them there.
“I appreciate all the help we had in getting the van,” Ellis, an Army veteran who spent more than 28 months in Vietnam between 1968 and 1971, said. “We got it in Indianapolis, but because of covid they wouldn’t release it.”
“Plus the fact I only had one driver and we needed three” didn’t help the situation, he added. But that need has also been met. Volunteer drivers Neil Ulsh, Steve Seyers and Mike Utterback will be making multiple trips each week to the centers, transporting up to four veterans at a time.
The purchase was made possible by four area organizations: Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the Montgomery County Community Foundation, Hoosier Heartland State Bank and Tri County Bank and Trust.
“I don’t remember how much it was, but it was a lot,” Ellis said.
The van’s relatively small passenger count (when compared to less fuel efficient 15-passenger vans) is also a blessing in disguise. Individual veterans need to travel to various centers at various times, making two vans crucial to meet the overall need.
“We’re going to start trying to get a second van, and the DAV is going to help with that,” Ellis said.
Montgomery County veterans looking to learn more about eligibility and schedule a ride may call Ellis at 765-361-4133 or visit the branch office at 110 W. South Blvd. in Crawfordsville. More information is also available at www.montgomerycounty.in.gov.
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