C E Rides for Vets provides a vital service to Elk and Cameron Counties

Photo by Brian Stockman — C E Rides for Vets organizers, from left to right, Fred Peters, Alan Straneva and Steve Woods provide essential services to Elk and Cameron County Veterans with transportation needs. 
Brian Stockman
Staff Writer

The Cameron-Elk Rides for Vets is a volunteer program, centered in Ridgway that provides transportation to Veterans and family members to and from medical appointments at no charge. They attended the Veteran's Outreach Program at the Dagus Mines American Legion on Tuesday to spread information about the programs to the attendees and "maybe sign up a few more volunteers," said Fred Peters, one of the leaders in the organization. 
"In 2018 we drove over 72,000 miles taking 495 veterans on 398 trips to VA medical facilities, and offices as well as trips for groceries and events," said Alan Straneva, "That's over 3,000 volunteer hours donated by our members to this program."
The Disabled American Veterans Association (DAV)  began an initial program in 1987 that has grown over the years into Rides for Vets. The DAV operates a fleet of vehicles around the country to provide free transportation to VA medical facilities for injured and ill veterans. The  DAV stepped in to help veterans get the care they need when the federal government terminated its program that helped many of them pay for transportation to and from medical facilities. The vans are driven by volunteers, and the rides coordinated by more than 178 Hospital Service Coordinators around the country. 
DAV Departments and Chapters, such as C E Rides For Vets., partnered with the  Ford Motor Company, to purchase 3,517 vehicles at  cost  that have been donated to Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers nationwide since the program began in 1987 to ensure that injured or ill veterans are able to get to their medical appointments. Elk and Cameron counties share three vehicles under the control of C E Rides for Vets based in Ridgway. 
"DuBois is our most frequent destination with 165 trips there for 205 veterans last year alone," said Peters. Altoona and Pittsburgh Medical centers are not far behind with over 90 trips there last year alone.
"But we have done Warren and Erie as well with over 27 trips for local activities such as grocery shopping and Christmas shopping," said Peters. 
"And we are always looking for more volunteers and any donations are greatly appreciated," said Steve Woods. "Anyone with a clean driving record can apply to volunteer." 

For more on this story, see today's publication of the Ridgway Record. (Wednesday, May 1, 2019.)