New bus route planned to ensure veterans get services

FONDA — Montgomery County Veterans’ Service Agency will provide a new bus route in 2019 in an effort to ensure the needs of veterans are being met.

Veterans, who are currently enrolled in the VA Healthcare System, will be eligible for free transportation to the Fonda VA Outpatient Clinic. The bus service currently provides runs to the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center daily. Beginning in January, the agency will provide rides to and from the Fonda clinic on Mondays. Driver John Zawisa will take over the Monday run.

“The office just wants to make sure we meet the needs of the veterans and better assist them in regards to medical treatment,” Veterans’ Service officer Randy Weaver said. “Whether it be getting a ride or driving in the weather, it’s more convenient for them to be able to use this.”

“Hopefully this new mission will save our veterans time in travel by not having to take an entire day to go to the Albany VA,” Zawisa said.

Weaver said he determined there was a need to provide this service after discussions with staff at the Fonda clinic.

“We’ve got a good relationship and we make referrals to each other,” he said. Weaver said with the county being rural, sometimes veterans are unable to receive rides to a clinic to obtain medical care.

“We are always looking for new ways to assist the veterans in our community,” Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort said. “I commend our Veterans’ Service Officer for pursing this initiative and believe it will help accomplish his goal of meeting the needs of all veterans in our county.”

Weaver said his staff will contact veterans already receiving transportation to the Albany clinic and inform them of the new service. Fliers will also be hung at the Fonda location to inform others who might not be aware of the transportation available.

Those interested should call the Veterans’ Service Agency at (518) 853-8152 and need to fill out a form to participate. Riders should call at least 24 hours in advance to schedule their appointment. Weaver said they are looking to schedule appointments between 8:30 to 11 a.m. The bus provided is wheelchair accessible, and riders may bring along a caregiver if assistance is necessary. Weaver said if there is a high demand for transportation to the Fonda VA Outpatient Clinic, the agency may consider adding another day to the schedule.