March 5, 2018
BIG CABIN, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation recently partnered with Grand Gateway Community Development Foundation to ensure safe, reliable transit services for Cherokee Nation veterans in northeast Oklahoma.
A four-year agreement worth $10,000 between the tribe and foundation provides veterans transportation to medical appointments. Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Tribal Council Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez met with leaders of the Veterans’ Ride Connect program last week to sign the memorandum of understanding.
Veterans’ Ride Connect is a consortium of six transit providers working together to take Cherokee and non-Cherokee veterans where they need to go throughout more than 25 counties.
“This generous donation from Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez will help enable us to offer discounted or free rides to our Cherokee citizens who have so valiantly served our country,” said Kendra McGeady, director of transit for Grand Gateway Economic Development Association. “We could not be more grateful for her generous support and the support of the Cherokee Nation.”
The tribe donated the money from its special projects fund. Projects funded through the special projects fund are selected by Tribal Council and Principal Chief Bill John Baker’s office and allow the tribe to partner with communities and organizations on projects that benefit both Cherokee Nation citizens and non-Cherokees alike.
“Veterans’ Ride Connect is such a benefit to hundreds of Cherokee Nation veterans in northeast Oklahoma,” Vazquez said. “This program is ensuring veterans have reliable, safe transportation services to get them to their medical appointments and other destinations, and I’m proud the Cherokee Nation is able to offer our support both now and in the years to come.”
Transportation services are provided to all veterans regardless of age or financial status. Each transit provider uses ADA-compliant vehicles, including minivans and shuttle buses, to accommodate veterans with wheelchairs and walkers, and travel aides can ride with the veteran at no additional cost.
The consortium uses one state-of-the-art call center in Big Cabin to provide veterans with a single point of contact to find available transit services.
“This program is a vital link between Cherokee veterans and the medical care they need in northeast Oklahoma,” Hoskin said. “Grand Gateway Community Development Foundation and the six transit services participating in Veterans’ Ride Connect are dedicated partners, and I’m proud to say the Cherokee Nation is committing to this program now and in the future.”
Participants include Pelivan Transit, Cimmaron Transit, Ki Bois Area Transit System, Morton Comprehensive Health Services, Muskogee County Transit Authority and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Veterans’ Ride Connect also works with Veterans Transportation Service through the Jack C. Montgomery VA Hospital in Muskogee.
The service area includes 25 counties: Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Creek, Delaware, Haskell, Hughes, Kay, Latimer, Le Flore, Mayes, McIntosh, Muskogee, Nowata, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pittsburg, Rogers, Sequoyah, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington.
Veterans with transportation needs anywhere in the service area can call Veterans’ Ride Connect at 855-735-4826 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., to learn about transportation options, transit fares that may apply and to schedule a ride. Long-distance trips should be booked at least three days in advance.