BY JERRY DONNELLAN
Director, Veterans Service Agency of Rockland County
As the writing of this, the Shuttle Bus that runs between the New City Clinic and the Montrose VA Hospital is due to stop running as of January 30, 2017.
Despite all the reasons to keep it – like the fact that those who use it are the oldest and sickest part of the veteran population, and the fact that the VA runs a vehicle between New City and Montrose for lab results and paperwork anyway.
So what it comes down to is really just a difference of whether to run a van or a sedan and the cost of that difference can’t be great – and the arguments put forth by the VA were that veterans could be reimbursed for the travel. The reality of it is only certain veterans can be reimbursed, which misses the point because the problem is that they can’t drive. Further, reimbursement would come to 20-odd dollars when the cost of the transportation I researched was $275 round trip and waiting from New City to Montrose.
What’s truly sad is a great number of these vets are WWII veterans. This is the same population we honored on the Anniversaries of D-Day and Pearl Harbor. The same people that saved our country, now aren’t worth the cost of a ride.
When I began arguing this point I asked them to speak out about what ending the Shuttle would do to them. It’s truly sad they were afraid. They didn’t want to say anything for fear their benefits might be taken away. How sad is that? This generation that stormed the beaches at Normandy are afraid of the very organization that’s put in place to help them.
After this broke, I received a letter from the VA to take a C&P exam. In English, the only purpose of that would be to take away my Disability benefits or it could be just a clerical error which gives them plausible deniability. It could be based on its timing, their way of trying to intimidate me for having the nerve to speak out for those who can’t. After all, that is my job!