Local veteran worried about transportation service hours

Local veteran worried about transportation service hours

The Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane has instituted new hours for a transportation service that shuttles local veterans to and from medical appointments. One Airway Heights veteran who has used the service for about a year, nearly every week said he’s concerned that now he will have a harder time getting the care he needs when he needs it.

Tim Leu, 54, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1981, while he was still in high school. Now, he faces another serious battle.

“I’m limping around here half the time and it’s hard,” Leu said.

He recently moved in with his mom and relies on the Spokane VA for the care and transportation to treat his heart condition, nerve issues in his legs, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He can’t drive himself to the doctor, so he schedules his appointments around his rides with the Veterans Transportation Service (VTS). The free service that runs from Monday to Friday is designed to serve veterans who are visually impaired, elderly, or immobilized due to disease or disability.

“I live way out here, two miles from the closest bus stop. Walking is impossible any great distance with the way my legs are,” Leu said.

That’s why Leu was so concerned when he found out VTS will now run from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. He said the hours have been scaled back since last year.

“It’s putting stress on us as well as the doctor trying to get us into that certain time,” Leu said. “Stress really effects how swollen my legs get. The more swelling, the more pain. Sometimes I just can’t walk.”

KXLY asked the Spokane VA why they adjusted the VTS hours. Officials didn’t point to a specific reason, instead saying they are using current resources the best way they can, adding that they hope to hire another VTS driver this year to better serve veterans. Veterans requesting transportation service should call 509-434-7537 upon receiving their medical appointment date to determine the best option for transportation.

Bret Bowers with the VA said another option for veterans is a free pick-up and drop off by volunteers with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) transportation service. To use this, veterans call the VA at least three days before their appointment to schedule a ride to the VA Medical Center and back. The number to call for more information about that is 509-434-7019.

Other useful resources for veterans:

Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center: 509-434-7000

MGVAMC Veterans Transportation Service (VTS): 509-434-7573