VA transportation cuts affecting Piedmont families

SALISBURY, N.C. — The VA Medical Center in Salisbury is no longer providing door-to-door transportation services to some veterans as part of a new transportation policy.

A spokesperson for the VA told FOX8 the new policy went into effect on May 1. The change was intended cut costs by only providing door-to-door services, called Special Mode Transportation, to veterans who meet certain clinical requirements.

Officials say the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center was the last hospital in the North Carolina and Virginia network to adopt the new policy. They say the services were provided as a courtesy before.

Greta Lint’s father, Elmer Lint, is one of the veterans affected by the change. Elmer is an 89-year-old WWII vet. He’s now blind, and lives two hours away from his daughter in Conover, NC.

“I worry about him a lot and I think there are a probably a lot of boomers in my position across the United States who are in the same position,” said Lint.

Lint has been worrying about her dad even more ever since he got his letter from the VA notifying him about the transportation changes. Lint says her father does not meet the necessary medical requirements to continue receiving Special Mode Transportation.

“Because he doesn’t use the wheel chair inside the house, they refuse to allow him to use this transportation service,” said Lint.

As part of the new policy, the VA will reimburse veterans for their mileage. They also provided a list of outside transportation resources to aid veterans affects. However, Lint says those services are usually limited when it comes to when and where they can take people to their appointments.

Lint says a neighbor has been taking her father to the VA Hospital lately.

“Yes, the VA will reimburse the mileage, but that’s not the issue. What happens if there is no neighbor? What happens if he calls one of these resources that the VA says call — like the VFW and DAV or something like that — and there’s nobody there to answer the phone?,” said Lint. “There are so many vets out there still coming back from Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and so forth. A lot of them need this service too. I’m hoping someone in Washington, D.C. says ‘We made a mistake and we’re going to change it.’”

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