Excited volunteer drivers for Astoria-area Disabled American Veterans gathered on a Saturday in December to inspect their new Ford passenger van and pick up their new keys.

The new van replaces one with a quarter-million miles, all driven by volunteers. It is larger, with room for 11 passengers, and provides safer access for people with disabilities, according to Dick Lang, the driver coordinator.

The local volunteer drivers make the round trip to Portland almost every weekday — totaling about 1,000 miles per week — enabling local veterans to receive medical treatment and prescription medications.

The DAV is a nonprofit that provides support for veterans of all generations and their families. The nationwide organization, which helps more than 1 million veterans each year, provides more than 700,000 rides for medical appointments and assists veterans with more than 300,000 benefit claims annually.

The local van is always in need of drivers so that veterans do not miss important appointments and treatment. These appointments often take weeks to schedule; a cancellation due to lack of transportation can be consequential.

Lang said it is a rewarding experience to be able to assist local veterans, many of whom would not have any other way to get to the Portland VA Hospital for treatment.

For information on becoming a driver, contact Lang at dicklang@charter.net or 503-298-8757.