Pictured are Gary Boren, Carl Gulotta and Jerry Eppard at the Thursday morning LCCOA Coffee Talk for Veterans.
Lincoln County holds many special events that help veterans, and honor them throughout the year; the Troy Disabled American Veterans (DAV) group is no different. The Troy chapter was established in 2008 when a few people were approached about helping veterans to get to medical appointments that had been made but the veteran was unable to drive themselves there.
Jerry Eppard was asked to help find a driver to transport a retired veteran to a St. Louis hospital back in 2007 and by 2008 the services were in full swing. All those who help with the DAV are volunteers and look forward to giving back to those who need the help. You do not have to be a veteran to volunteer, but you must be a veteran to take advantage of the free services that are provided through the DAV.
Jerry Eppard became the Route Coordinator for the Troy area veterans who need assistance. Eppard recently announced he will be retiring as of July 1 and the DAV is vigorously looking for a replacement.
“I work from home and mainly just take phone calls from the veterans who make the appointments. I call the hospital to confirm the appointments and then locate one of the three full time drivers to take them down to the hospital on the day that it is needed,” said Eppard. There is paperwork to be filled out regarding the trips, but mainly the Route Coordinator focuses on making sure each veteran has a ride to their appointments. Route Coordinators and drivers pass government background checks before they can become involved in the DAV services.
Another need in the area is for DAV drivers. As of now, there are three full time drivers who, on average, work three days a month to make sure veterans get to all their needed appointments. Their jobs are to make sure everyone arrives at their appointments on time, safely, and aren’t denied the help they need. All veterans who use the service have a form with their information, and driving directions to make it easy on the volunteer drivers. The volunteer drivers are required to pick up the veteran from their home and safely take them to their appointment. The driver will wait until the appointment is over and escort them back to their homes.
“I enjoy helping people out whenever I can. I like to give back to the community,” said Gary Boren, one of the three full time volunteers.
“It’s just veterans helping veterans,” said Carl Gulotta, one of the other full time volunteers.
The drivers have a 2001 Dodge Caravan that they use to drive to the VA hospitals in St. Louis. Volunteers are not asked to drive their personal vehicles unless their is a time conflict, which can be avoided by changing appointment times if possible.
The need for a new Route Coordinator is great as July approaches and Eppard would like to help train the new Route Coordinator.
If you, or you know someone who is interested in becoming a DAV driver, coordinator or you are a veteran wanting to use this free service, contact John Farrell at (314) 289-6393.