By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Disabled American Veterans in Enid put more than 21,000 miles on their vehicle last year, taking veterans to and from Oklahoma City for doctor appointments.
Because the vehicle has more than 170,000 miles on it, the four-year-old van must be replaced, and DAV is beginning a drive to pay for a new one. With assistance from the national DAV, the local group must raise $14,000, said Don Eck, a member of Enid DAV.
“We haven’t purchased it yet,” Eck said. “We take veterans to the hospital free of charge, and we go through so many miles on it, then purchase a new one. We get the money before we purchase the vehicle.”
The money must be in before December.
Eck said members have no major problem with fundraising, but are starting earlier this year. If they raise excess funds, they will place it in a transportation account at the local office. The money will be used to reimburse any volunteers who use their personal vehicles to take veterans to Oklahoma City who do not qualify for DAV transportation. For example, disabled veterans who are in wheelchairs are not allowed to be transported by DAV, Eck said.
“We have a van that is four years old and has 171,000 miles on it,” he said. “Once we purchase the van, the DAV pays for maintenance from their transportation fund.”
DAV has had a presence in Enid for 30 years, Eck said.
The 1.2 million-member organization is a non-profit 501(c)(4) charity dedicated to building better lives for America’s disabled veterans and their families. It was founded in 1920 by disabled veterans returning from World War I to represent their unique interests.
In 1932, the DAV was congressionally chartered as the official voice of the nation’s wartime disabled veterans.
Eck said the organization is not well-known, and members are trying to move its headquarters from 601 N. 26th to a more visible location. One reason is the present headquarters is not handicapped-accessible.
Members also would like a building large enough to have meetings. They currently meet in the senior citizen center.
“We’re trying to have an area large enough so we can have meetings for veterans,” Eck said. “Sometimes, a vet can only talk to a vet, because that’s the only one who understands.”
DAV has a number of services for wartime disabled veterans. If a disabled veteran has a claim, the organization will help file it, and stay with the veteran until the decision on the claim is made. If the veteran feels the decision was wrong and files an appeal, it provides attorneys who will work with the veteran until the resolution, Eck said.
There are other programs for homeless disabled veterans in homeless shelters, and it now is working on cases of post traumatic stress disorder.
“They don’t have a lot of people to talk to,” Eck said. “The suicide rate among disabled vets is almost 25 times higher than the general public. That’s unacceptable. With the Afghan war coming to a close and bringing everyone home, within a year, people will forget about it.”