William “Dallas” Gray has been married to his wife Shirley for 49 years and they have three children. He is a dedicated family man and an avid volunteer. Gray saw a need for a system in the community to help veterans.
Any given day, veterans needing health care at a VA facility have no transportation to the medical center or clinic. Many of these veterans are unable to drive themselves and do not have a family member who can step up to the plate.
Enter the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Transportation Network and volunteer Mr. Gray. He did not find a new cause to champion or become an advocate for. Gray saw a need in his area and did everything he could to plan, strategize and meet that need. Gray spends 3-4 days a week making sure veterans arrive at their medical appointments on time and makes sure they get back to their home by end of the day. He started transporting veterans in his own vehicle in 2000 because the veterans needed transportation to their only source for medical care.
Gray was only able to transport 3 veterans at a time in his Dodge Durango and that frustrated him. So, Gray spearheaded a fundraising effort to purchase a van through the DAV Transportation Network. The van would then be donated to the Gainesville VA Medical Center and used for the purpose of getting veterans to the medical center. His idea and efforts paid off and in the spring of 2004, a brand new 12 passenger van arrived at the Gainesville VAMC bought in part from the funds he raised.
Now Gray usually drives the van from his home town of Eustis to Gainesville 4 days a week usually bringing 4-6 veterans each time. On the days he is not driving to Gainesville, he might be headed to the VA clinic in Orlando or Daytona sometimes driving his own vehicle. He has recruited other volunteers to ensure the van has a driver every weekday.
Last year Gray logged in a total of 1,200 hours and over 25,000 miles in the van despite being out for two months following surgery. He has been an active VA volunteer since 1999. The nationwide DAV Transportation Network catered to 742,811 veterans in 2005 and logged in 27,437,075 miles. Gray is a veteran of the Korean War and is active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars.