FRANKLIN, Ind. - To help cut down on the time of a shift and the miles on the road, the Johnson County Veterans Transportation Network is looking for additional drivers. Drivers are volunteers who take veterans from their homes to a doctor at a Department of Veteran's Affairs hospital and then back home.
Jim McIntire has been running the county-wide program for a few years. He said he trusts the drivers he has in place now, and those on stand-by, but adding drivers is a must as more veterans enroll in the VA program and more VA clinics open in central Indiana.
"We're going to get them there no matter what," said McIntire.
McIntire's role is to coordinate with drivers so they know who needs picked up and where each veteran needs to go. He also drives one of the two vehicles more than occasionally.
“I left my house yesterday about 3 o’clock in the morning," said McIntire. "I got home at night at about nine."
The long shift and possibly 300 miles on the road are reasons he'd like more drivers. Another reason for more drivers is the addition of other VA clinics in the area.
The Veteran Health Indiana announced a clinic is opening in Shelbyville in April at 30 West Rampart Street, which was left vacant with the move of Major Health to another part of town.
“You’ll have six to eight veterans that you deal with in a day and that doesn’t sound like a whole lot until you get to doing it," McIntire said. "You’re running around the whole county, picking them up, taking them to wherever the clinic is they need to go to, and then seeing that they get back home."
Interested drivers need a valid driver's license, pass a small physical, and be available at least once a week. Drivers can get a free meal or two, depending on how many hours they help that day.
Even with extra help, McIntire doesn't expect the job to be much shorter. “I won’t lie to them when I tell them what’s involved," he said. "I don’t want them to think it's an 8-4 job. You just never know.”
McIntire said a similar program in Morgan County lost its only driver recently. He's now working with officials there to start a driver network there with at least three drivers to start.
Interested drivers can contact McIntire at 317-885-9209.