State-Funded Ride Program For Vets Ends

Central Oregon – July 1 ended a state-funded program that for the past three years has given veterans transportation to and from their medical appointments.

The Oregon Legislature allocated funding to provide the rides roughly between June 2013 and June 2015.

After that, the Oregon Department of Transportation used a different pool of state money to keep the program going for another year.

The program provided 1,678 rides to and from providers in Central Oregon to at least 396 local veterans, according to ODOT.

Now there’s no more funding.

Many veterans who live outside of Bend used the medical rides program to get to Bend, where they could catch the daily bus operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs that brings veterans from Bend to the VA medical center in Portland and back, according to Central Oregon Veterans Outreach.

Many of them don’t have family members or others to help them get to their medical appointments, so churches and other groups are stepping in to help.

To apply for the volunteer rides, people can call Central Oregon’s Intergovernmental Council’s call center at 541-385-8680.