New DAV van to transport veterans to medical appointments

| October 30, 2020

Veterans were invited to come out and see the new DAV van during a special event at the AMVETS on Oct. 28. (Marianne Austin)

Members of the veterans community recently gathered to celebrate the purchase of a new van to transport veterans to and from medical appointments.

Dave Dilly, AMVETS representative on the Veterans Service Commission Board said, “We work with Coordinated Transportation of Coshocton, approved by the VA, to drive and they are very strict. We have two drivers now. A few more  have applied but it’s a slow process. With funding from local Moose Lodge, Eagles, Blue Star Mothers and individuals we raised $23,000 for the AMVETS.”

Sharon Burns, president of Blue Star Mothers OH-59 has been very helpful Dilly said. “The ladies raised money through raffles at the AMVETS and the county fair as well as various fundraisers. We are here for them for whatever they need.”

Burns said in 2019 at the 9-11 ceremony they sold a truck that a Vietnam Vet donated, and half the money came from that event.

This is the community’s third van for veterans. They received their first van in 2005. When they get close to 200,000 miles it’s time for a new one and money is already being saved for the fourth one. No government money is used for the vans. The money comes from local groups and a program through the Ford Motor Company has a program. The sticker price was $45,000, but Coshocton only had to come up with $23,000.

Van driver Jim Shivers said the new van has a lot more room and it’s a lot heavier. “The steps are not as high and it’s easier to get in,” he said. “It has all the bells and whistles. It has a backup camera and a beeper so it’s easier to back up around VA facilities. It’s safer getting in and out, it has wider doors, the step up feature is easier. With the last van I had to use a stool to get in and out. It’s rewarding to me because I’m working with the vets. The vans get a lot of miles driving to the VA clinics in Zanesville, Newark, Columbus, Cincinnati, New Philadelphia, Akron, Canton, Cleveland, wherever their specialists are including authorized specialist outside of the VA.”

Veterans were invited to come out and see the new van during a special event at the AMVETS on Oct. 28.

“It’s been upgraded from the last one we had. I want to thank everybody throughout the county for their participation. It’s been great,” said DAV Chapter 74 Commander Ed Skerness. “After the ceremony everyone come in and get something to eat.”

Chaplain Lloyd Ford gave the prayer for favor and protection and a blessing over the van  for safety and to all the people who contributed.

The Ford Motor Company has been a loyal friend of DAV since 1922, when Henry Ford provided 50 Model T Fords to help disabled World War I veterans attend the organization’s second national convention.

Ford continues lending its support today by donating vans for use in DAV’s nationwide Transportation Network program. Through the generosity of their grants, 231 vehicles have been purchased and donated to this program. The program is fueled by 10s of thousands of volunteers who drive veterans to and from medical appointments across the U.S.

DAV (Disabled American veterans) operates a fleet of vehicles around the country to provide free transportation to VA medical facilities for injured and ill veterans. DAV stepped in to help veterans get the care they need when the federal government terminated its program that helped many of them pay for transportation to and from medical facilities. The vans are driven by volunteers, and the rides coordinated by more than 174 hospital service coordinators around the country.

DAV departments and chapters, along with their long-time partner Ford Motor Company, have purchased 3,678 vehicles at a cost of more than $84 million, that have been donated to Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers nationwide since the program began in 1987 to ensure that injured or ill veterans are able to get to their medical appointments.

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