VetRide is looking for a few good riders to reach a goal for funding.
“We need about 140 riders total by March,” said VetRide manager Sophie McCoy. “We’re almost there, but we could really use some more veterans or their spouses to call us and take us up on our rides.”
VetRide is a free service funded through a Texas Veterans Commission grant as well as donations. It provides rides for veterans and their spouses who live in Burnet, Llano, and Lampasas counties to doctor’s appointments, pharmacy pickups, vision checks, and other places.
The organization has seven vans ready to go; three are wheelchair accessible.
In a normal year, VetRide gives rides to 175-200 people, which works out to about 1,000 to 1,200 trips annually.
McCoy explained that, as part of the grant process, the organization sets a ridership goal. For the current funding cycle, that was 200. The Texas Veterans Commission looks at non-duplicated riders when it comes to funding, she pointed out.
“Then, COVID came,” McCoy said.
While VetRide has kept rolling though the pandemic, rider numbers have dropped off due, in part, to concerns about the virus.
McCoy said volunteer drivers follow recommended COVID-19 health and safety protocols and sanitize vans between rides.
Another cause of the drop-off is that Veterans Administration clinics have canceled many appointments or shifted to online or telehealth services when possible. Many VetRide clients use VA services.
Physicians and clinics outside of the VA system also curtailed services in the beginning of the pandemic.
McCoy said VetRide is here for all veterans and their spouses, even if they have other transportation.
“People think if they can drive or a neighbor can take them, then not to bother VetRide,” McCoy said.
Instead, bother them, she urged.
“We want you to call us,” she said.
While funding may be tied to numbers, McCoy said it’s not the reason she and the drivers are involved with VetRide.
“It’s an honor to be able to give veterans these rides,” she said. “We want them to take advantage of our service. Just call us. That’s what we’re here for.”
To schedule a ride or for more information, call 830-613-9982 or toll free 877-851-8838.