|Jerry Hatchett drives 200 miles a day, making sure Veteran patients get to their appointments.|
Jerry Hatchett is no ordinary van driver. He's a VA volunteer driver who escorts Veterans to and from the VA Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Every Wednesday, Hatchett leaves his house at 4:45am and doesn't return home until 4 in the afternoon. His nearly 12-hour day is filled with miles and miles on the road as he picks up and drops off Veterans in need of a ride to the medical center.
"I typically drive 200 miles a day," said Hatchett. These miles are charted without leaving the Oklahoma City metro area. Usually, he will cover one half of the city while another volunteer drives the other half of the sprawling area.
A marine Veteran, Hatchett values his time spent helping fellow military men and women. Over the past five years of volunteering, he has been around to offer a friendly grin and chat with the passengers he takes to medical appointments.
"People tell me things about their kids or something about their past. It's really nice to have that kind of connection with them," he said.
"When I see patients get well, it's a wonderful thing."
|Jerry Hatchett loads the van with Veterans heading home after their visit to the VA Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.|
But that's not what makes Hatchett happiest about his job. He explained, "When I see patients get well, it is a wonderful thing. It's nice to see when they've healed and pretty much gone on their own."
"Jerry takes his volunteering very seriously, developing a relationship with his passengers. He goes above and beyond to meet the requests of those Veterans," said Richard Maxey, Chief of Voluntary Services in Oklahoma City.
Veterans who have Hatchett chauffeur them to the VA realize he likes to partake in a healthy dialogue — and he might even offer them some advice. During his drives, he talks to patients about "anything from politics to marriage counseling. A lot of problems are resolved through our conversations."
When Hatchett is not volunteering, he can be found in his workshop building furniture, playing a round of golf, or spending time with his family. He and his wife of nearly 50 years are expecting their fourth great-grandchild in the next few months.
Jerry is one of those guys who found a job he likes to do and knows the value of helping others. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my volunteer job," he said. "If you have any desire to volunteer, don't hesitate."
By Megan Tyson, VA Staff Writer