The Disabled American Veterans Chapter 28 is fund raising to purchase a new van to transport veterans to medical appointments.
Every two to three years, the chapter looks to purchase a new transport vehicle as the miles rack up. Last year the chapter was due for a new one, but DAV Chapter 28 Commander Rex Ritchie said the pandemic actually worked in the chapter’s favor as transport numbers declined, and the need for a new van wasn’t as urgent.
However, as transport numbers slowly climb back up, fund raising has commenced with the goal of raising $32,000 by the end of September.
“In years past, the community has really stepped up and supported us with money and allowed us to get the vehicles that we have,” Ritchie said. “I’m sure the community will step up again this year. I have all the confidence that they will just based on past years.”
The chapter is looking to replace its oldest vehicle, a 2016 van. The chapter also owns two other vehicles, a 12-passenger van and a standard van.
In a typical year, Ritchie said the chapter would transport around 35 veterans per week to medical appointments. In 2020, however, those numbers dropped to around 10 veterans per week. The vans are dispatched from the Marion VA hospital, and Ritchie said the veterans typically are driven to Marion or Indianapolis.
Ritchie said the service is important as some veterans are unable to drive.
“There are some veterans who are either unable to drive any longer, or maybe they don’t have a vehicle any longer. They may live on a fixed income where driving over there is a little bit of a hindrance to them, but some of them don’t have any transportation at all,” he said.
The vans are driven by volunteer drivers, and Ritchie said the chapter also needs more drivers. During COVID, he said he had a hard time getting volunteers, and those numbers haven’t picked back up.
Volunteer drivers must have a good driving record, license, insurance, and undergo a written test and training. Drivers can pick their schedule and determine how many hours they want to drive and when.
The next fund raiser for the DAV takes place on Thursday, April 22, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Jim Dandy, located at 203 W. Jefferson St. in Tipton. Those eating there that day don’t need to bring a flyer; a portion of all proceeds that day will be donated to the DAV.
Those interested in supporting the fund-raising efforts also can mail a donation to DAV Chapter 28 at 3706 S. LaFountain Suite C 46902. If a business donates $500 or more, the name of the business will be put on the new van.
Veterans needing a ride can call 765-674-3321 ext. 73509 Monday through Friday before 2 p.m. Veterans are asked to schedule rides two to three days in advance.