Transportation to aid local vets

Published 5:31 pm Monday, September 15, 2008

Local veterans will benefit from the donation of seven-passenger van donated by Ford Motor Company.

The van will provide county veterans seeking treatment at the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center with free transportation and take some of the uncertainty out of obtaining a ride for doctor visits.

“At the present time, members of our local DAV help each other out when someone is unable to drive from Tuscaloosa or even Birmingham for treatment,” Lee Belcher, Service Officer for the Marengo County Chapter 31 of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), said.

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Belcher said the services would be available to all veterans, regardless of if they are able to drive themselves or not, easing a financial burden of a 100-plus mile round trip.

The van will be used as part of the DAV Transportation Network, which is one of the only ways many Alabama veterans are able to get transportation to VA facilities.

With more than 1.4 million members, DAV is an organization of disabled veterans who are focused on building better lives for disabled veterans and their families.

The organization accomplishes this goal by providing free assistance to veterans in obtaining benefits and services earned through their military service. It is fully funded through its membership dues and public contributions. It is not a government agency and receives no government funds.

The Marengo Chapter is currently in need of volunteers to drive the van. Each volunteer will have to receive training and complete a physical exam to join the other 5000 volunteers nationwide who provide these services to the nation’s veterans.

For more information on how to be a volunteer driver, call Belcher at 289-1251. The location where the van will be based and the area it will service is still in the planning process. Delivery of the van is expected to be made in two weeks.