Friday, September 27, 2013

Petition: Disabled Veterans and Transportation

A local disability activist and the Independent Living Center where I used to work are collaborating on what at first seemed like a local problem, but now appears to have national scope. Like many communities, ours has a disabled veterans group providing van rides to medical appointments at facilities that are rather far away … for us it's often hospitals in Burligton, Vermont and Albany, New York. The problem is that none of their vans are wheelchair accessible, despite the fact that the organization is specifically for Disabled American Veterans. Not only that, but it seems to be a nation-wide pattern. Either they don't want to spend the money to buy vans with lifts or ramps, or their volunteers don't want the responsibility or perceived liability of transporting "non-ambulatory" veterans. So, if you can walk … with a cane, walker, whatever … you can get a ride. If you use a wheelchair, you're on your own.

At the ILC where I worked, we had a van for some years that we used to transport people with disabilities to doctor's appointments. It had a ramp though, and because of that we would only transport wheelchair users. We only had the one van, and we figured that if you could ride in any other kind of vehicle, you had more options. We reserved our service with people who had no other options. At the time I actually rather hated this policy, too, since we had to turn away people who didn't have their own cars, didn't have friends or family to drive them, or couldn't afford cabs. But at least the policy made some sort of sense for a disability organization.

There's a "" petition to sign:
"Currently, the jointly operated DAV-VA National Transportation Program offers free rides to Veterans needing transportation to Veterans Administration Medical facilities. Most of the vans are not wheelchair accessible leaving out the most (physically) disabled Veterans who use wheelchairs for mobility. In addition, there are written policies in place stating: "ambulatory only/no wheelchairs". This policy is discriminatory and must be changed."

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