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Syracuse VA in dire need of drivers for its DAV shuttle service

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Syracuse VA Medical Hospital needs your help. They’re in dire need of volunteer drivers for its Disabled American Veterans Transport Service. The shuttle service takes veterans to and from their appointments who aren’t able to drive.

It was just a little over three years ago when the Syracuse DAV’s shuttle service had 260 drivers. But now, the number of drivers has been cut in half and they need the public’s help.

Right now, Syracuse VA Medical Hospital’s shuttle service for Disabled Veterans only has 123 drivers. It may sound like a lot, but the DAV says it’s not.

The 42 vans, serve thousands of veterans in 14 different counties, making it hard to keep up. The lack of drivers has led to the DAV having to cut down on its transportation, only operating four days a week, instead of five. The shuttle service is no longer able to take veterans to their appointments on Fridays because of the shortage.

Raymond Adams is one of the 123 drivers who dedicates his free time to picking up and dropping off veterans who can’t get to their appointments.

“I drive for the Mohawk Valley and I generally drive one day a week but some weeks it’s two,” said Adams.

It was a job Adams was looking for after he had retired.

“I wanted something like this to do. I wanted to volunteer and do something somewhere and this turned out to be the ideal thing, it worked out very well for me,” said Adams.

So good, Adams has been doing it for about four years, even getting behind the wheel during the pandemic.

“You get to know them and they know you, and it’s just rewarding,” said Adams.

Rewarding for Adams after serving in the Air Force for three years. But he says it’s because of his father, a World War II Veteran and past commander. Adams says his father was also a big part of the VFW.

“I kind of wanted to give back in service of other veterans, it’s why I decided to drive and things like that, I think he would be proud of that,” said Adams.

Proud of grateful veterans are for drivers like Adams, and people like Bill Gleason, who also served in the military.

“Each and every one of us has our reasons coming and doing this,” said Gleason.

Gleason, a former driver, now working as a recruiter says he is thankful for the drivers they currently have.

“Two-thirds of our people are veterans. The other third, non-veterans, and then I ask them and they got somebody in the military or their father was in World War Two or what other reason there too and then we have some that they just want to help out” said Gleason.

For Gleason, he says being a recruiter makes him feel good.

“You come in here and there’s going to be somebody walking down the hallways or in a wheelchair or being carried in that are a lot worse than you. So benefit that I get is that I feel good when I walk out of here at 2:30, 3:00 p.m.,” said Gleason.

Gleason is hoping you’ll feel the same.

If you’re interested in becoming a shuttle driver for the Disabled American Veterans, call Bill Gleason at – 315 425 4343. Monday – Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

If qualifications are met, a physical will be required, following orientation and fingerprint.

You must be 21 years old and have a New York State driver’s license, and a good driving record.

In addition to drivers, the DAV is looking for volunteers to help answer the phone, do computer work, recruiters and service the 42 vans.

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