JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
BURNET — When asked what was at the top of the Burnet County VetRides program’s Christmas wish list, manager Sophie McCoy answered immediately.
“Right now, I think our number one wish would be more drivers,” she said.
“We could always use that, too,” she said. “We have 18 drivers, and that sounds like a lot. But we do 10 or 12 drives a week, and those are long drives to Kerrville, Temple, San Antonio and Austin. Those are six- to nine-hour days. That’s long for our drivers.”
Some of the same drivers make those trips twice a week, depending on the need. In all, the program serves 350 veterans, McCoy said.
“Some drivers want to drive everywhere,” she said. “Some wouldn’t mind every other week. They don’t want to let any vets down. And we don’t want to burn out our drivers.”
Many drivers are former veterans or are related to a veteran, so this service is dear to their hearts.
The VetRides program has three vans. Many times, a van will have a handful of people who need to go to the same Veterans Affairs medical facility. That’s why the days are long when adding in the amount of time to drive to the facility, appointments to be completed and then the drive back.
“Drivers get to know the vets,” McCoy said. “It’s more than a drive to them; the veterans become a family. When you’re with people for six to nine hours, you’re going to know them.”
McCoy said she tries not to use the same driver in consecutive days, noting even volunteers have lives.
And once others learn of the program, the veterans or their family members contact McCoy for a ride.
“Some move into this area, and many of them don’t have family close,” she said. “So there’s a definite need in this.”
For monetary donations, make checks payable to VetRides and send them to 220 S. Pierce St., Burnet, TX 78611.
Call (877) 851-8VET (8838), (830) 613-9982 or (512) 715-5271 for more information.
“This area’s outpouring of blessings they’ve given to the program is wonderful,” she said. “I want to thank everybody in this area for the support they’ve given this program. It’s a true blessing.”