New van completes upgrade to Joint Veterans Council vehicle fleet

Posted 5 March 2017 at 3:30 pm

Photo courtesy of Owen Toale: A new van is wrapped and ready for the road.  From left include: Greg Stanton of Stanton Signs; Dave Kusmierczak, president of Orleans Joint Veterans Council; Kip Lonnen of Hartway Motors; and Earl Schmidt, Orleans County Veterans Service Agency director.

Press Release, Orleans County Joint Veterans Council

MEDINA – The Joint Veterans Council of Orleans County has upgraded their Veterans Medical Transport fleet. The five vans, providing veterans with transportation at no charge to medical appointments, have all been replaced within the past five years assuring reliable transportation.

The latest van, a Dodge Grand Caravan, was obtained with the help of Kip Lonnen and Hartway Motors of Medina. Both Lonnen and the dealership recognized the importance of working with the veterans and worked with the council to identify and  obtain the van.

“We had a budget and criteria for the vehicle and they were most helpful in filling our needs at a price we could afford,” said Owen Toale, a representation of the council.

After the van was purchased, Greg Stanton of Stanton Signs in Medina designed and wrapped the van to identify it. Stanton has done the previous four vans and as a veteran himself he recognized the importance of the service.

The funds for the van purchase were donated throughout the county. According to Dave Kusimerczak, Council President,  funds were received from veterans’ organizations, fraternal organizations, companies and individuals. None of the funds for the vans came from the Veterans Administration or governmental agencies.

The medical transport service is free to veterans and staffed completely by volunteers.  Volunteer office workers staff the office at the Veterans Administration building on Route 31 in Albion from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.

They field the calls from the vets about their appointments and schedule the vans and the drivers.  The day before a vet’s appointment, the office staff will call the vet and the driver to remind them of the time for the next day’s trip.

All drivers are volunteers who then transport the vets to Batavia VA, Buffalo VA, clinics in Rochester and as far away as Syracuse and Bath.

In 2016, 1,596 veterans were transported to their appointments.  Volunteers provided 4,790 hours of service and the vans totaled 54,269 miles.

For more information on the van service, whether to volunteer or to schedule transportation to VA-directed medical appointments, please call (585) 589-2865.

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