In the past 12 months, the Boone County Disabled American Veterans (DAV) has helped more than 300 local veterans and their families live better lives. This chapter provides assistance to veterans in five counties including cities ranging from Eureka Springs to Diamond City and as far south as Marshall and Jasper.
Every Thursday, DAV Vice-Commander Ron Craig is at the Boone County Library helping veterans get the benefits they have earned and deserve. Several times a week, Paul Christ and Dennis Boone drive the DAV van transporting veterans to and from their doctor appointments in Branson and Fayetteville. Go to the Harrison VA Clinic and chances are you will run into DAV Adjutant Juan Martinez offering you a fresh cup of coffee and seeing if there is anyway the DAV can help.
In the past year, the DAV has also picked up, refurbished and delivered countless electric wheelchairs to veterans and built nine handicap ramps freeing veterans from being housebound. There were dozens of gift cards for food and gas, assistance with rent, utilities and financial help with other pressing needs provided to veterans and their families. Beds and winter coats were purchased for the children of veterans as well as Christmas presents. DAV assistance is always free to the veteran. Maybe the best thing the DAV accomplished was letting these veterans know that they are not forgotten and their service to our country is still respected and appreciated.
Although much pride can be taken from the accomplishments of the past year, it’s not nearly enough. The needs of veterans in our community far surpass our ability to properly meet them. his is why your local DAV, VFW and American Legion chapters are considering the formation of a new non-profit organization simply called “The Unit.”
What is unique about The Unit is that anyone who is willing to volunteer a few hours a month to help veterans can join. Members will consist of civilians, active military and veterans of all ages, backgrounds and experience. We encourage entire families to join so children can learn the value and rewards of being a patriot and giving to others. We also hope to provide local charities and civic groups who already do great work for the community a way to easily reach and help veterans.
The goal is for The Unit to be a “rapid response team” providing veterans quick assistance with the minimal amount of paperwork and red tape. The Unit will be organized into various companies that meet specific veteran needs. Upon joining, you will choose a company that best fits your experience and interest. There are no dues. The only requirement is a sincere desire to serve those who served.
Unit missions will include things like shopping and delivering groceries, home repair, building handicap ramps, repairing and delivering wheelchairs, legal and financial assistance, growing fresh vegetables for our veterans, preparing resumes, yard work, cleaning, public relations, canned food drives, visiting veterans who are without families, fundraising, helping with a food bank, cutting and delivering firewood, finding good winter coats, documenting family and military histories, administrative, coordination, outreach programs and much more.
Whether The Unit comes to fruition or not depends largely on you. If we get enough volunteers, then it will happen and countless veterans will live better lives. Please drop us a note at email@example.com if you would like to help. You can also donate to this worthy cause by sending a check payable to DAV at P.O. Box 632, Harrison, AR 72602.
If you really want to thank a veteran for their service, join The Unit.
Matt Russell is a USMC Vietnam combat veteran and Commander of the Boone County DAV. The opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not represent the position of this newspaper, the Disabled American Veterans or any other organization.