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Mini-Cassia puts out call for veteran volunteers

Times-News - 3/16/2023

Mar. 15—RUPERT — Veteran volunteers are needed to help keep services in place for other veterans.

The Mini-Cassia Veterans' Service Office desperately needs volunteers to drive veterans in the Disabled American Veterans van to their medical appointments at the Boise VA Medical Center, Mini-Cassia Veterans Service Officer Chuck Driscoll said.

"Our current van driver is 77 years old and wants to retire," Driscoll said.

None of the veteran volunteers are paid.

On average the office receives a transportation call about every other week. Many of transports are only to Twin Falls and then the veteran catches a shuttle to Boise, but some people with visual or other impairments are driven to Boise.

"We only take those who can't get there themselves," he said.

The volunteer DAV drivers must pass a medical examination and can't have high blood pressure or diabetes, even if controlled, and a driving records check will be performed, he said.

Mini-Cassia Veterans Group Commander Martin Walker said they are also looking for volunteers to help provide military rites at funerals.

Walker said they perform about 70 to 80 rites a year. At times they've had as many as three funerals at the same time, which is difficult because they do not have enough equipment for that many at once.

If they had more volunteers, he said, they would be able to justify a request for more flags and guns.

The bugle is electronic and only requires someone to hold it properly.

"Every veteran is qualified to help," he said.

All the training is provided and the veterans must be able to comply with military protocol, Driscoll said.

"It can give someone a sense of purpose," he said.

The MC Veterans' Service Office has 790 veterans on the books, Driscoll said. Probably another 2,000 are in the community but are under his radar.

It's important, he said, for veterans to take care of other veterans.

"We have to have each other's backs, always," he said.

Driscoll said the veterans' service office received some food donations over the holidays, which prompted the office's newest venture, a veterans' food pantry.

"It was nice to be able to give boxes out during Thanksgiving and Christmas but I was thinking what about the other 10 months of the year," he said.

Driscoll has installed some shelves in a back room and has been giving out food boxes to veterans.

Veterans are encouraged to donate any shelf stable foods they can spare.

The pantry is just available to veterans — and veteran volunteers are also needed to help make food deliveries.

"We are trying to take care of our own," Driscoll said.


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