LAKE WALES, Fla. — Polk County veterans could soon lose out on free rides to the VA hospital in Tampa. The organizer of the van for Disabled American Veterans says veterans in the county may have never known about the service to begin with.
Jack Shoults, an Army veteran, knows there is a need for disabled veterans to get to the Tampa VA. That’s why he worked tirelessly to get a van donated to James A. Haley Hospital and recruit volunteer drivers to assist the veterans to and from Tampa.
However, that was three months ago. As of June 11, no one has logged a trip to the hospital.
Instead, the donated van is sitting in a Lake Wales VFW parking lot unused.
“I found in my past experience that this has been a program that gets overwhelmed,” Shoults tells ABC Action News.
He worked in Missouri to get a similar program up and running and, today, it has three vans which take veterans to and from their doctor appointments.
A volunteer driver, John Goodman says he’s only taken the van on a short trip to get the engine running.
“I don’t really think there’s that many veterans in Polk County that doesn’t need assistance of that sort,” Goodman said.
There are more than 50,000 veterans in the county with about half listed as disabled, according to the county,
The van which is designated to drive veterans to their appointments in Tampa, running before 9 a.m. and staying until 2 p.m.
If you or anyone you know is in need of transportation to the VA hospital in Tampa and you live in Polk County reach out to Jack Shoults with the information below.
You can email him at email@example.com or call at 863-589-5786.