Donated vehicle provides free rides for families of sick veterans

Posted at 5:52 PM, Aug 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-26 19:23:04-04

MILWAUKEE -- Families of veterans at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center now have one less thing to worry about during their stay.

A variety of local organizations donated $25,000 to provide a van for free transportation. 

“I go in the morning and I stay there until the last shuttle in the evening,” said Rita Mayer.

For Mayer, the trip to the hospital has become a daily routine. She's spent about two months at the Milwaukee VA this year alone supporting her husband.

"He was in toxic shock so he's had a long haul,” she said.

Mayer’s husband is a veteran out of Green Bay who has been sick for quite some time.

"Right now they're just trying to wean him off a ventilator," said Mayer.

Mayer has had to stay in a house on the hospital's campus to be by his side.

"You feel so helpless,” she said. “There's nothing you can do but be there."

One of the issues Mayer and many other families coming from 26 different states is transportation.

"They would either walk to the hospital or ride with someone if they had a car that was here to drive them," said Fisher House Wisconsin Director Curtiss Peck.

Before Friday, there were shuttle rides to the hospital, but only on limited hours during the week. Now, those like Mayer will be able to take the donated van for trips at night and on weekends.

"We'll be able to go back and forth to the hospital when we need to," she said.

Families staying at the Fisher House will also be able to use it to have some fun.

"Either to the theater, baseball games, or the museum," added Peck.

Most importantly for Mayer, it's one less thing to worry about during this tough time.

"They'll be able to take us to the store and to the pharmacy or whatever," she said.

Over the course of the year, the vehicle will provide thousands of rides to hundreds of families coming from at least fifty miles away.