Van serves Lassen, north Plumas veterans

Since 1987 there have been a few volunteers who have devotedly served the veterans of northern Plumas and Lassen counties by providing transportation from Susanville to the Reno VA Hospital and back.

Most of their clientele are from the greater Susanville area, but quite a few veterans who live in the Westwood and Lake Almanor area use the service as well.

It has been said more than once that the DAV van service is one of the best-kept secrets in the region. Well, be assured that is certainly not the intent of any veteran or veteran service individual who already knows about it.

Aubrey Hawkins has been driving and/or coordinating the service for more than 10 years now and he makes a point of telling everyone who mentions the Reno VA about the ride service available. The van travels to the Reno VA Hospital every Tuesday and Thursday.

It can carry four patients over and back. The van leaves from the VA Clinic in Susanville two hours prior to the first appointment time scheduled. Riders will be notified of the departure time.

Because of the varying departure times, reservations for a ride should be called in as soon as the veteran’s medical appointment is made.

Hawkins said, “It’s better to make a ride appointment a month, or even two, ahead of time. The longer they wait the more chance of the van being full for that day.”

Hawkins is the ride coordinator for the DAV van and will be happy to sign up veterans and answer any questions they might have. The number is 258-0319.

Hawkins offered a big thank you to the volunteers who have been faithfully driving each week as they make it possible for those vets who don’t drive, can’t drive or can’t afford to drive make it to their appointments.

He also extended an invitation to anyone who would like to help by driving the van a day or two a month. Drivers don’t have to be a veteran to volunteer.

The pay is minimal — a free breakfast or lunch at the hospital — but the gratification is plentiful with the grateful thanks of the veterans served.