Donated vehicle means new service for veterans

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 26, 2015

By David Freeze

For the Salisbury Post

The motto of Disabled American Veterans, or DAV, is “Fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served.” Congress chartered the organization in 1921 for the purpose of helping disabled veterans and their families. That work is ongoing in Salisbury with the efforts of DAV Chapter 96. A signature project is under way currently, and members want to complete it soon.

Otto Borden, DAV Chapter 96 adjutant, brought a newly donated 2009 Ford Explorer to the regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night for everyone to see. Borden was excited to show the vehicle off because veterans in Rowan County would now have a new service available.

“Transportation to VA appointments will no longer be a problem now that we have this vehicle. We can get them where they need to go,” said Borden.

Lane Construction of Charlotte donated the Explorer, currently painted white.

“We are working on raising money to get a wrap put on that designates who it belongs to and who it serves,” said Borden. “Now we just need to raise enough money to pay for the work being done. We still need $1,225 to finish the job.”

Any veteran who needs transportation can get it as long as they call Borden and leave a name, where they live, and the date and time of the appointment.

“Just make sure to call me a week in advance,” he said. “Those who call us won’t need to be a member of DAV. We want to help all veterans.”

Call Borden at 980-643-4234 to schedule transportation. To donate to the vehicle-wrapping project, call Chief Volunteer Officer Les Eason at 704-638-3409.

“Chapter 96 was organized four years ago with men who served. Now we have an auxiliary that has plenty of ongoing projects while providing services here at the hospital,” said Margaret Keller, state judge advocate for Auxiliary 96.

The group won four awards at the state convention in June and one nationally. The awards were for its work at the VA, Americanism, Community Service and the May Holmes Award, given for all-around work. Some current projects include providing coffee breaks in Building 2 at the VA Medical Center, holding group parties, and sponsoring the Wheelchair Olympics team at the VA, which recently traveled to Texas to compete.

“We just cook and fix and serve where needed,” Keller said.

Diane Williams, commander of the auxiliary, called it “lots of fun to work with veterans.

“There is no doubt that they appreciate what we do,” she said. “This new vehicle came to us because Lane Construction asked Otto what they could do for us. Now it is our job to raise the money to get it wrapped correctly while we keep our other projects going on.”

Williams and Keller are selling raffle tickets for a 50-inch TV at $10 for a book of ten tickets. The TV will be given away at the Oct. 25 DAV meeting, and ticket orders can be made any time by calling Williams at 704-202-6650 or Keller at 704-209-6401.

“Many of our disabled veterans don’t have anybody,” Williams said. “This is my passion to work for them.”

The group meets the fourth Monday of every month. Keller said it is the only DAV Auxiliary in North Carolina, “and we could use more people.”

DAV member Tommy Taylor was adamant that the new vehicle would provide a needed service to local veterans.

“You couldn’t get any help through DAV or anybody else for transportation needs before,” he said. “Rowan Transit didn’t service my area but once a week. I found ways to get to the VA. Now we can get here when we need to.”

After experiencing great cooperation through various agencies in Baltimore for help with transportation, Henry John Thomas Allen, Jr. recently moved to Salisbury because he has a daughter here and a son in Winston-Salem.

“I just went from 10 percent to 90 percent disability,” he said. “The DAV had me squared away in Baltimore. I just joined the DAV here. Baltimore offered the services that I will have here now. I could get to my appointments.” 

He added, “This VA has great facilities. Now I can get here, too.”