Our nation today is home to 21 million living Veterans. These men and women have served our nation in time of war and peace. With almost 2 million of these Veterans residing in California, the Golden State has the largest population of the 50 states and four territories of former service members.

Roughly 126,000 of the state’s Veterans have made Riverside County the place they want to live. Many of these Veterans made the choice to become residents here for what they thought would be close proximity to either Norton or March Air Force Base medical facilities, commissary (grocery store) and the Exchange (J.C. Penney type store), but Congress shut down or reduced the bases to reserve status eliminating all, or some, of those services.

Military retirees earned lifetime medical care and privileges such as commissary and exchange utilization that save money for the retiree. This opinion piece isn’t about military retirees or their benefits but it could include them.

You see, we have 25% of our nation’s Veterans with service-connected disabilities. So, if you served or you know someone that has served our country, it’s likely they have a one-in-four chance of having a service connected disability. Not everyone that has a disability rating has been wounded in combat.

While our National Purple Heart Hall of Honor estimates 2 million Purple Heart Medals were awarded to combat-wounded, our Persian Gulf War Veterans earned 607 of the medals, Afghan Vets another 12,500 and 35,000 have been awarded during the Iraq war. Still this article is not just about those heroic combat-wounded, but it might include them, too.

Our piece covers all Veterans who served and needs a ride to a doctor’s appointment at a Veterans Administration Hospital or Clinic. With 29,847 disabled Veterans residing in the county, more than a few need a ride to and from appointments for physical or physiological injuries sustained while serving our nation. We applaud the efforts of the non-governmental organizations and volunteers who take Veterans to and from their medical appointments as a community service.  Veterans organizations such as the American Legion and AmVets provide rides to their fellow Veterans free of charge and put the wear and tear on their private automobiles without a cent of reimbursement.

For too long Veterans have been left behind when it comes to transportation to and from medical appointments. The good news is that County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez is working on a solution that could provide transportation for Veterans using both public and private transportation. Lyft, Uber, or a Taxi may be available to get that man or woman to and from medical appointments of all types to the Veteran Administration Medical Center in Loma Linda or the Veterans Administration Clinic in Palm Desert. Making this happen requires both a public and a private partnership. It takes creative thinking and problem solving as well.

Slashing red type and getting creative to cobble funds together is a major undertaking but it can be done!  Let’s support our service men and women and get them the transportation and care they need at medical centers and clinics here in Riverside County, California and across the nation.

Image Sources

  • Uber app: Image by freestocks-photos from Pixabay