Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System
Gulf Coast VA accepts donated van to support its Veteran transportation network
November 19, 2018
FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. – Through its Voluntary Services program, the Department of Veterans Affairs Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System added a new donated van to its Veteran Transportation Network Nov. 15.
Disabled American Veterans Chapter 112 Commander Ramond “Andy” Cole presented GCVHCS Director Bryan C. Matthews the van’s keys during an informal event at the Golden Corral Buffet and Grill. Donations from patrons of the restaurant were used by DAV to buy the van and donate it to VA.
VA volunteer drivers, like Linda Caton of Fort Walton Beach, will transport GCVHCS patients in the new van from the Eglin Air Force Base VA Clinic, to the VA Joint Ambulatory Care Center in Pensacola, Florida, for health care appointments.
“I’m honored to drive it, and to drive our Veterans from Eglin to Pensacola,” Caton said, a Veteran herself, who has been a volunteer driver for nearly a year. “To see how so many people in our community care about our wounded Veterans, who would support and donate for this beautiful new van, it makes me want to cry.”
The late Tom Simms, a DAV member who passed away in June, took donations for the van. During the event, it was apparent that his contributions were not forgotten, and were on the minds of those who knew him.
“[Tom] almost dedicated the last years of his life to raising this money [for the van],” GCVHCS Voluntary Services Coordinator Michael Grey said. “This is a result of his effort, the local DAV, and the community. We are very grateful for their support.”
Mark Shaw, Golden Corral co-owner with his wife, said allowing DAV to raise money for the van in their restaurant falls in line with how they feel about military and Veterans.
“We are big-time, pro-military,” Shaw said.
Grey said the new van will replace an older van which has nearly 200,000 miles on it. The older van will be given back to DAV.