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Transportation service helps Marquette County veterans receive medical care

The Disabled American Veterans Transportation Network provides free rides to medical appointments authorized by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 4:39 PM EST
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MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - The Marquette County Department of Veterans Affairs is offering a service to help veterans get the medical care they need.

The Disabled American Veterans Transportation Network provides free rides to medical appointments approved by the VA. According to Marquette County VA committee chairman, George LaBlonde, the service makes trips to multiple facilities.

“Whether they’re at the VA hospital in Iron Mountain, at our veterans’ clinic in Marquette, or any medical center or doctor’s appointment that the VA has authorized,” said LaBlonde.

LaBlonde says the need for medical transportation is great among Marquette County veterans.

“Marquette County is one of the largest counties, so they’re spread out all over the place,” LaBlonde said. “That’s why we try to get most people to come to central locations.”

For those who can’t meet at a designated site, they can talk to the VA about making arrangements to be picked up.

LaBlonde says while the pandemic has not caused an increase in trips, it has changed the way the network operates.

“A lot of stuff has gone to TeleMed,” said LaBlonde. “We’ve also seen a reduction because of our capacity. Our local van can only take one veteran at a time; our big van that takes nine passengers can only take three at a time.”

It’s also led to an increased need for volunteers.

“We like to have about 30 drivers, so we’re always looking for volunteers,” said LaBlonde.

LaBlonde says the service is a way the VA can give back to veterans in Marquette County.

“A lot of people have to drive that long distance, and they either can’t make the drive themselves or they don’t want to drive,” said LaBlonde. “A lot of our veterans are older and, especially in the winter, it’s just easier if they can get a ride.”

To schedule a ride or to volunteer to be a driver, call ride coordinator Erica Smith at 906-373-6191. For more information on the Marquette County VA, visit the organization’s website.

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