Local and State Officials Team Up to Provide New Van for Veterans

From the left are Syracuse Veterans Affairs Volunteer Coordinator Robert Hawes, Oswego Health Representative Jeff Coakley, Executive Director of Operation Oswego County L. Michael Treadwell, Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski), Syracuse Veterans Hospital Volunteer Coordinator Frank Caputo, World War II Veteran and van rider Pearl Babiarz, Oswego County Van Coordinator and driver Dean Percival, Van rider and Veteran David Ledford, Van Driver Jim Fields, Van Driver Bernie France, Oswego County Legislator Paul Santore, and Oswego County Veterans Office Representative Joanne Demong.

Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I—Pulaski) and Executive Director of Operation Oswego County today dedicated a brand new veterans van that will be used to transport veterans to and from doctors and hospital appointments throughout the area.

Assemblyman Barclay was able to secure $19,500 for the van and an additional $10,000 was secured by former Sen. Jim Wright (R-Watertown) in state funds for the van purchase. Operation Oswego County took care of purchasing the van through Burritt Automotives. The City of Oswego Veterans Council also contributed to the van purchase.

Several veterans and van drivers, as well as federal Veterans administrators from Syracuse, and Oswego Health representatives were present for the event at Seneca Hill Health Center today.

“The DAV Van program provides an invaluable service to our veterans. Just in the first four months of the year, four van drivers in Oswego County have made 70 trips and driven more than 11,000 miles to transport 350 veterans,” said Barclay. “I am most pleased to be able to provide funding for such a valuable service and, ultimately, for the people who served our country,” added Barclay.

“Operation Oswego County was pleased to support services to our local veterans by providing the administration of grant funds secured by Assemblyman Barclay and former Senator James Wright from the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs,” said L. Michael Treadwell, executive director of Operation Oswego County.

Van driver and local veteran Jim Fields approached Assemblyman Barclay about purchasing a new van last year. “I serve veterans because I am a veteran. They are my own. Within two weeks of asking for a van, I was told we would have a van. Without Assemblyman Barclay’s foresight, without his experience in the Assembly, we wouldn’t have had that van,” said Fields.

The Syracuse Veterans Medical Center coordinates drivers for an 18-county region. Oswego County currently has four van drivers and is in need of volunteers, said Robert Hawes, Voluntary Service Manager for Syracuse VA Medical Center.

“The Volunteer Transportation Network meets a crucial need in getting patients to and from their appointments. We’re certainly grateful for the van and the Assemblyman’s help in securing the funds to help sustain this vital program,” said Hawes.

“This van will be of great benefit to the veterans we serve at the Oswego Community Based Outpatient Clinic operated by Oswego Health,” said Brenda LaMay, Oswego Health director of occupational and primary care health services. “It will provide our veterans with improved access to healthcare and more flexibility when scheduling their medical care.”