Two men and a van deliver patients to the VA

Published 12:10 am Monday, May 28, 2012

Henry Lovely is a 78-year-old Korean War veteran living in Vicksburg, and all his medical care comes from the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Veterans Administration Medical Center in Jackson. But Lovely has no car.

Luckily for Lovely, Sid Ervin, a 72-year-old Army veteran, volunteers his time twice a week to drive other veterans to the VA Hospital for free.

“It’s much easier with the van,” Lovely said. “Before that I was taking a Greyhound over there.”

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Ervin said he started out driving veterans to Jackson in his own truck about eight years ago, and in February 2011 the VA provided him with a van.

“When I commit to something, I do it all the way,” Ervin said. “There’s no halfway, and when I volunteered to be a driver I wasn’t kidding.”

Ervin drives passengers each Tuesday and Thursday, and everywhere he goes, he has strapped to his jeans a cell phone provided by the VA. The VA gives his number out to people west of Jackson who need a ride to the hospital for appointments, and Ervin makes sure they get there.

“He helps everybody out,” Lovely said. “That van is a great thing, and it’s very convenient.”

One day last year, Ervin was talking to Glenn Prewitt, another Army veteran in Vicksburg. The 67-year-old said he was interested in volunteering, and since October, he’s been helping Ervin by driving passengers to the hospital when Ervin can’t make it.

“It’s just a good thing to do,” Prewitt said. “We enjoy carrying them over there and helping out.”

Ervin said the number of passengers he takes to the VA changes from week to week, and he and Prewitt have driven from one to three veterans at a time.

“I enjoy doing this,” Ervin said. “I know it’s old hat, but think about what they gave up. They went over there and fought for us.”

Ervin got involved in volunteering with the VA in 1990 by going to the hospital and interacting with the patients. He’s a member of the Elks Lodge, which is closely tied to the VA.

“Our motto is ‘As long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks will never forget them,’” Ervin said. “I believe in that motto, and I intend to maintain that forever, or until they kick me out.”

Ervin said he enjoys the time he spends with the veterans, and he doesn’t think of it as a job.

“You get all kinds of stories, and it’s interesting,” Ervin said. “It’s like visiting with an old friend. I’ve just enjoyed it.”