His mission to serve "comrade veterans" was spurred by a military draft.

While the Vietnam War left George Bolt, 64, with little choice when it came to signing on with the United States Army, he became a volunteer not long after receiving his draft card.

"Since LBJ (President Lyndon Baines Johnson) was having to dig that deep, I volunteered to go Airborne after I was drafted," Bolt said.

It is more than mere coincidence that Bolt, who served as a combat medic in the Tet Offensive from 1968-1969, is still living the life of a caretaker. In fact, Bolt said driving the Stephenville shuttle for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs is the perfect medicine for his PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). He said the symptoms and suffering associated with PTSD varies by individual diagnosis and called his own a "medical" condition.

"I am a compulsive helper," Bolt said. "The worst thing that could happen to me is to not be able to assist my comrade veterans."

While it could have been jest - or Bolt simply being honest - about his volunteerism, he said his motivation is a bit selfish.

"It's all about self-gratification," he said. "So I can sleep at night and feel better about myself."

Bolt is one of three men who volunteer to transport veterans from Stephenville and the surrounding area to appointments at Olin E. Teague Medical Center in Temple, Waco VA (Veterans Affairs) Medical Center and the Brownwood VA Clinic every week.

"Vietnam veterans are getting to be the older veterans," Bolt said. "After the van ride, we go into the hospital together and come out together. Nobody gets to leave before the last person is seen. That's where conversation comes in, the social aspect."

When it comes to volunteering, Bolt said he would not have signed on with just any service.

"I can't help everyone, but I can help veterans," he said. "That is what I do."

The assistance Bolt offers to veterans and their families doesn't stop when the van is returned to its parking place at the Erath County Sheriff's Office.

"I went through the (VA) system," he said. "When I run into a veteran with problems, I share my knowledge. I know a bit about how to navigate the system. I ask them if they have a VA card and if they do, I will do anything I can to help because that shows they are a documented veteran and trying to help themselves."

Bolt is also a member of the Patriot Guard Riders - another volunteer service organization on wheels. The group is an unofficial organization of leather-clad veterans and motorcycle enthusiasts who use freedom of speech - and their intimidating appearance - to surround grieving families at the funerals of fallen soldiers.

"We surround the family with a circle of flags, covering protest placards," Bolt said. "The family doesn't need that at that time."

Volunteer opportunity

The Stephenville Shuttle has tallied more than 200,000 miles since it got rolling almost six years ago.

VA shuttle coordinator Robin Ritchie said the dedication of three men - Bolt, Dean Slayton and Winsett Reddock - keep it going.

"George (Bolt) is a caretaker, just like he was a caretaker in the service," Ritchie said. "Dean and Winsett are not military, they simply have a need to serve and that is all that is required."

For those interested in becoming a volunteer driver, call volunteer services in Temple at 800-423-2111 to request an application to serve the Stephenville shuttle system.

Veterans needing a ride to medical appointments, should call 965-2689.

In honor of National Volunteer Month, the E-T will feature an Erath County volunteer every Friday in April. If you know someone who deserves to be included in this series, call Amanda Kimble at 968-2379, ext. 238.