Rides for Veterans: Road warriors for our nation's warriors

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By: Ben Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 13, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Shelton Norton and Kenneth Hughes are two local veterans who have never met, but share a bond.

First, they served our nation. Now, they both need rides, not to serve, but to save them.

"I went to the VA Hospital in Lake City," veteran Norton said.
"It's very important for me to receive my treatment because it helps me stay healthy and stay alive."

"I went to Gainesville, I went to a urologist," Hughes adds. "If I wasn't getting the treatment, I wouldn't be alive today."

A van is their transport. It, and the volunteer driving it, have one purpose.

"I appreciate having the opportunity to help these veterans," Bob Cannon says.

He volunteers to drive with the DAV, or Disabled American Veterans. It's a national organization that has transported more than 19,207 veterans 485,364 miles during the first ten months of 2017 in Florida alone.

Four days a week, a van leaves the VA in Tallahassee. It has more than 100-thousand miles on it.

"The van helps me a lot because I don't drive, I don't have no other means of transportation," Shelton says.

Major John Haynes served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He's a Purple Heart and Silver Star recipient and a member of the DAV for 50 years.

“If I can help a veteran build a better life for himself and his family, it's my duty to help and provide assistance," Haynes says.

He's now the Chairman Emeritus of the Florida Veterans Foundation, who just gave a chunk of grant money to the DAV to purchase a van.

"We found out as we progressed with our program that many of these veterans had no transportation. They couldn't get to the VA clinics or the VA hospitals."

He's not only an American hero helping other vets; Haynes is fighting his own health battle too, coping with prostate cancer for 25 years.

"I don't worry about it," Haynes says.

He's been through worse. Many of these vets have. It's part of the bond they share.

They're our warriors, thankful for these road warriors.

In Tallahassee, StarMetro also provides rides for veterans. Their numbers show they process over 300 applications a year, allowing nearly 5,000 free bus trips.

For more information on the StarMetro rides, click here.

For more information on the DAV and their transportation program, click here.

To learn more about the Florida Veterans Foundation, click here.

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