Westmoreland expands veterans' transportation services
By Tom Yerace
Published: Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 12:51 a.m.
Local veterans who find it difficult to get to appointments at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals are getting some help.Starting Thursday, Westmoreland County is expanding its free transportation service for veterans into the northern part of the county.
Matthew A. Zamosky, the county's director of veterans affairs, said veterans will be able use the service to travel to medical appointments at the VA's University Drive facility in Pittsburgh and the H.J. Heinz facility in O'Hara.
“It's for any veteran who is enrolled in the VA Health System,” Zamosky said. “We're not going to restrict it by county.”
The van will run on Wednesdays and Thursdays for appointments scheduled between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. It can accommodate up to 10 people.
“It is a free service for the veterans but the appointments are verified,” Zamosky said.
There will be two pickup points.
One is at the McDonald's restaurant along Coxcomb Hill Road (Route 909) in the Parnassus section of New Kensington.
The other top is the parking lot at District Judge Jason Buczak's office at 4066 Route 66 in Washington Township.
Veterans can drive to those locations, park their cars and then take the van to one of the VA facilities.
“Our van is set up for primarily morning appointments,” Zamosky said. “It's for the sake of the driver and the passengers, because its ‘once down and once back.'”
He said the trip is set up to avoid rush hour traffic.
“If there are other passengers, they may have to wait for you or you may have to wait for them,” he said. ”It varies from day to day.”
Fred Grau, former commander of the VFW in Lower Burrell and currently the post's secretary, is a volunteer driver for the volunteer transportation service operated by Allegheny County.
“It's certainly needed up in that part of the Valley,” he said. “That whole northern section is underserved. Now there will be some kind of a regular service.”
“Once (veterans) get to a certain age, families don't want them to drive and it gets kind of shaky driving into town,” Grau said. “With all their other problems, dealing with that traffic makes for a nerve-wracking experience for them.”
Zamosky said the veterans should schedule their appointments and transportation in advance to be assured of a seat.
“It is first-come, first-served,” he said. “As long as there is seating available and if they call early enough the day before, we can get them on.”
He said the passengers have to be ambulatory and have the ability to get around. The van can't accommodate motorized wheelchairs, but portable wheelchairs that fold are acceptable.
“We can take an assistant to help, like a spouse, but that would require a note from the doctor,” Zamosky said.
He said the transportation program, to this point, has been operating primarily in central Westmoreland County. All the vans are kept at the county's public works compound in Greensburg.
There is a possibility the service in northern Westmoreland could expand further, depending on how much the new service is used and if there are sufficient volunteers to enable further expansion, according to Zamosky.
Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Classes resume after Leechburg Area bomb threat
- Oakmont councilman pushes for answers in vandalism of surveillance cameras
- Kiski Valley authority manager resigns
- Deer Lakes board cuts elementary counselors
- Pittsburgh-area drivers roll with rising pump prices
- Woman struck by car in New Kensington bar’s parking lot
- Cool chemistry: Programs at Springdale library take inspiration from late science professor
- Deer Lakes School District crafts tentative budget, but contract issues unresolved
- Ballot issue to seek 0.25-mill property tax increase to support Springdale Free Public Library
- Armed suicidal man surrenders after O’Hara elementary school lockdown
- Instagram builds Oakmont barber’s rep for innovative cuts, ‘hair tattooing’