Volunteers get veterans on road to care - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Volunteers get veterans on road to care

TYLER (KYTX) - A group of volunteers is getting East Texas veterans on the road to care. CBS 19's Michele Reese explains what they are doing.

The Tyler VA clinic is a primary care facility, so it doesn't have any speciality care. Veterans have to go to the Dallas VA for speciality care and getting there has been a constant battle, but some volunteers are changing that.

"I have to have surgery. I have two tumors in my lower quadrant... they're not saying a brain tumor just something that's abnormal," explained Vietnam veteran Ron Kasek. He makes trips to the Dallas VA hospital frequently for care. "We have surgery May 2nd. I have to go April 14th to have blood work."

For three years Kasek has driven himself two hours for his appointments. But that all changed recently, thanks to volunteers like, Debra Christian of Tyler.

"I felt it was the least I could do," Christian explained. He father fought in three wars. Until he passed away, she took him to Dallas for care. "I knew first hand it was needed."

She said she decided to keep his memory alive by taking other vets for their treatment in Dallas. "They're so happy because in the evening we give them a courtesy call and let them know we'll be here and they're sitting here and we do check in and get to Dallas around 8."

Christian and 3 other volunteers take the vets every Tuesday and Thursday in a van that was donated in 2009 to the Kilgore Disabled Veterans Group. Because it's hard to get volunteer drivers due to strict requirements, it has taken two years for the van to be put to use.

The ride is free and called a blessing, by Bobby Jones who wasn't getting care the care he because he couldn't get to Dallas. "I said I'm not driving to Dallas," Jones explained. So when he heard about the new service he was the first to use it. "If it wasn't for them would probably the problem I had."

Kasek's grateful too that volunteers are serving those who served their country in their time of need.

The Tyler VA clinic said they are hoping to be able to help more veterans in Tyler in the future. The clinic administrator said there are plans to expand which would take them out of the space. They hope to add doctors to the staff and have the expansion complete by this time next year.


Any veteran who needs to get to Dallas is invited to use the van. It leaves at 6 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. To make an appointment, call the Tyler VA clinic.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer driver for the VTN program in Tyler should contact Bimal Chaudhry, voluntary service specialist, at 817-730-0078.

To schedule a ride, Veterans should contact their clinic at the Tyler VA Primary Care Clinic at 903-590-3050.

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