Wristbands can turn into rides to clinics for SLO County veterans

Community members have a new, colorful way to express their appreciation for military veterans, just in time for Veterans Day.

Throughout November, which the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors recently proclaimed "Thank a Vet Month"  several local businesses and organizations will offer solid-colored red, white and blue wristbands bearing the slogan "Thank a Vet" in exchange for donations to  the Veterans Express Shuttle.

Shuttle organizer Greg Shearer and his fellow volunteers are also handing out multicolored red, white and blue wristbands marked with the words “Thank you” to veterans.

According to Shearer, the wristbands are the perfect way to show support for the more than 26,000 vets and their families who live in the county.

All proceeds will go to the Veterans Express Shuttle, which started offering low-cost rides in 2008 as part of Ride-On Transportation in San Luis Obispo.

For $3 each way, the shuttle service takes riders to and from Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria. From Santa Maria, veterans can catch a second shuttle to a larger clinic in Los Angeles.

Each month, the shuttle provides about 180 rides throughout the county, Shearer said.

“It’s about getting veterans the health care they deserve,” said Shearer, who served in the Army from 1966 to 1968.

Running the shuttle service costs about $60,000 a year, including gas and maintenance expenses. The cost is subsidized by Ride-On and community donations, although the shuttle was briefly shut down in 2010 because of a lack of funds.

“We’re not the only county (in California) who has issues with transporting veterans,” Shearer said, “but we might be the only county that’s doing anything about it.”

For more information about the Veterans Express Shuttle, call 541-8747 or visit http://www.ride-on.org.