For the past 24 years, Air Force Veteran and motor vehicle operator Steve Clark has provided Veterans with free transportation from their homes to medical appointments through the Fayetteville VA Medical Center Veterans Transportation Program (VTP).
Over the years, Clark has seen a steady increase in the number of patient service trips since he first started driving.
This increased need for service is clearly evident in the VTP reports from August 2011 through March 2012
showing the medical center served 4,174 Veterans. During this eight month period, the transportation program
conducted 25,364 patient trips logging more than 117,012 miles using the medical center’s transportation shuttle service.
“We stay very busy transporting patients from their homes to this medical center, the community based outpatient clinics in Supply, Wilmington and Durham (NC) and to Richmond (Va.),” said Clark. “We also make sure patients get to their appointments at the new dialysis clinic at Village Green (in Fayetteville) by 7 am; drivers start their days by 5 am.”
Clark doesn’t seem to mind the intense demands of getting to work early and returning home late; in fact, he said serving fellow Veterans is rewarding and at times also emotional.
“As a Veteran myself, I know they gave their best and I will always give my best to them,” Clark said. “I want our Veterans to always be treated with the respect and dignity they have earned; they inspire me everyday and it’s very rewarding to bond with them. “
Clarks’ passion to inspire others doesn’t stop with his job at the medical center. He and his daughters still find time to share their musical talents performing at their church and in the community. He reflects back to some memorable times giving back to Veterans during the mid 90’s.
“Back in the day, the medical center had a band for Veterans and staff called the Melting Pot,” Clark added. “It warmed my heart to see how music lifted everyone’s spirit. Today, I still feel blessed to have a job like this where I can encourage patients to get better during our time on the road.”
In addition to Clark, Ms. Albanese relies on other VTP drivers with the same commitment to Veterans. She says, she couldn’t provide transportation services without a strong team that shares the same values as Clark does. Albanese extends her heartfelt appreciation to staff, Kevin Aucutt, Tyrone Pope, Craig Danks, Steve Clark and Ernesto Navarro for “making sure Veterans get the best medical care they deserve from the VA.”
Clark and the other drivers are appreciated by county Veterans Services Officers (VSOs) as well.
“Mr. Clark makes everyone in the office feel that we work together as a team for the VA,” said Anita Hartsell, Brunswick County senior VSO. All of the drivers from Fayetteville truly make a difference for our Veterans and this community.”
Veterans enrolled in the VA Health Care system can reserve free shuttle service by calling (910) 488-2120 ext. 5225.