Colorado Elks Foundation Supports Local VA Ride Program, Harbert Top VSO in Colorado


Harbert and Crabtree


Funding fell short this year for the annual budget providing rides to medical appointments for area veterans, according to Gary Harbert, Prowers County Veteran’s Service Officer. Harbert explained there were problems with the 2019-2020 grant cycle.  The shortage became known to the Lamar Elks Lodge, which through its contacts was able to secure a $2,000 donation from the Colorado Elks Foundation.  Other local business also contributed to help meet the financial needs of the program.  Lamar Elks, PER, Jared Crabtree, said he became aware of the situation and contacted the State Elks Association which helps provide funding for programs of this nature and made the request for the $2,000 which was granted.

Harbert said, “This will take care of the budget for the rest of our year for our transportation needs.” The Prowers County Veterans Office has a transportation program which is comprised of four vans and four volunteer drivers.  He added that the 2020 budget is on track for being met, a total of $15,000 that provides for gas for the vehicles and a small reimbursement stipend for the drivers.

The other donating businesses included the Lamar Walmart, Community State Bank of Lamar, Parker Heat and Air, TBK Bank of Lamar, Lloyd Brown Insurance, GN Bank of Lamar.

Harbert said the transportation program isn’t just limited to Prowers County for service. “Many times we’ll offer rides to veterans from outlying areas along our route to either Denver via Highway 287, such as Eads.  We’ve made stops in Deer Trail for veterans needing assistance, or we can stop in La Junta, Rocky Ford or other towns along the way.”  He said veterans needing rides from outlying areas such as Springfield need to find a ride to the County Annex, but from there, they’ll be taken to their appointments.

“Sometimes a spouse needs to accompany the veteran during the trip, and we’re happy to accommodate their needs and concerns. Arrangements can also be made to have a CNA accompany the patient, but they need to make that contact themselves,” he stated.

Harbert didn’t mention it himself, but a third party let it be known that he received the  Veterans’ Service Officer of the Year Award in Colorado last week, during an annual convention. This is his third year in his capacity for Prowers County.  Harbert estimated that he processed claims on behalf of Prowers County veterans amounting to $5,278,000 which includes medical issues as well as compensation for their disabilities.  “Aside from the medical payments, a lot of those funds are put back into the county through regular spending for daily needs,” he explained.  He estimates the travel program averages 25 rides a month.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarCountyEventsFeaturedHealthPublic SafetyTransportation


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