The DAV and County Drivers Pull Together

The DAV Drivers and County drivers have become a network that provides transportation for veterans to VA Medical Centers and Clinics for medical care.  Most counties have vans that provide this service, and all VA Medical Centers have DAV Hospital Service Coordinators (HSCs).  HSCs supervise volunteer drivers go into the communities to get veterans for their medical appointments.  It amounts to being an amazing program that demonstrates what can be done to serve and benefit veterans and even society when different organizations and people pull together.

The Transportation Networks in Minnesota provided rides for over 29,254 veterans in 2015.  It is something that DAV members support through their membership and should be extremely proud of.  It is a program that is unique to the DAV. This number of veterans transported is obtained by drivers signing in at the Minneapolis and St Cloud Medical Centers

On a day to day basis the volunteer and county drivers are already going above and beyond what most people do.  But sometimes an unusual circumstance arises and they step up to really save the day.  A situation like this happened in late February.  Even though all the vehicles are well maintained, on rare occasions, a vehicle can break down.   And it did happen on a cold day in late February.  At 7:30 am a county van was coming up Interstate 35, on board were 5 veterans.  There were two Iraqi vets, two Vietnam vets and a WWII vet on board.  It was cold outside, it was in the forties.  Not cold enough to be immediately life threatening but cold enough to warrant concern.  Suddenly the van’s engine stalled and stopped functioning. As the vehicle slowed the driver steered it safely to the shoulder of the road.  The driver tried to start it but the engine wouldn’t crank.  And then there was no heat in the van. Slowly the cold seeped in and the passengers began to feel the cold.  But more than that, they became concerned about getting to their medical appointments.  Not knowing what else to do the county driver called the DAV office at the Minneapolis VAMC and reached a dispatcher.  All the local DAV drivers were out making their pick-ups.  But thinking quickly the DAV dispatcher called another county driver that had already arrived with his veterans to the Medical Center.  This driver had already signed in at the desk so the dispatcher knew he was there at the medical center.  The second county driver learned of the situation and quickly went to pick up the veterans at the stalled vehicle,  and then brought them back safely to the Med Center.  The first driver then waited for a wrecker and rode it back to his county seat and picked up a second vehicle.  He returned to Minneapolis and waited for his passengers to finish their appointments.

The county drivers bring in their veterans from their counties located all over Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Some are paid small stipends, some are strictly volunteers. They get up early, sometimes early enough to be on the road by 4:00 am.  But all do a self-less job in taking care of and getting the veterans to their appointments on time.  The driver that had the vehicle that broke down was very appreciative of the support he got from the DAV dispatcher.  “ I’m glad you guys are here to help, we can be kind of helpless out there.”

Babette Blumenauer, DAV Minneapolis VA Medical Center HSC
Phone: 612-467-2768

Thank You for the great year!

Hello DAV of Minnesota.  Another year is about to come to a close. It has been an amazing year.  Your combined efforts have achieved so much.  We have driven over 1,000,000 volunteer miles and established the Northeast transportation network. We lead the nation in membership and have increased the number of DAV Outdoors events giving more veterans the opportunity to connect. We had a great year in terms of moving forward with our partnership with Savers and increased revenues for our Department and our chapters. With these resources we are better able to support disabled veterans and their families.

We are now in the final month which culminates in our department convention.  I encourage you to attend and participate as you can.  In addition to working on the convention, we are working closely with our Minnesota legislators attempting to put in place the legislative agenda laid out by the Commanders Task Force (CTF). Please continue to contact your individual legislators and let them know that they should not forget our veterans and their sacrifices. Let them know our purpose is to improve the quality of life of veterans and their family members.  If you need a copy of the legislative agenda please contact the Department HQ.

This is a unique year in that we have two Minnesota DAV members who are looking at key leadership positions at the national level.  It is Minnesota’s turn to nominate the 14th District NEC.  PDC David Valtinson is wanting to run as the primary and I will be running as the alternate NEC. The election will be at National Convention in Atlanta. We also have the opportunity to support our very own Stephen Whitehead as he will run for National Third Junior Vice Commander. Stephen will have some unique needs which require financial support. If you’d like to donate please forward the donation to the Department HQ Attn: PDC Greg Remus/Adj Whitehead for National Commander. Any support you can give will be greatly appreciated by Stephen as he continues to represent MN at the National level.

Finally, I’d like to thank our professional staff, the Executive Committee and supporting committees for the countless hours they have devoted to support disabled veterans and the DAV of Mn. More importantly I’d like to thank you to all of the volunteers in the Chapters and Auxiliaries who give of their time and talents every day. Without all of us working toward our common cause we wouldn’t have been able to achieve as much as we have.   Thanks!!!

Greg Remus, DAV Minnesota State Commander 2015 – 2016

 

Minneapolis Veterans Home needs Volunteers!

Our home was established near Minnehaha Falls not long after the Civil War as place for veterans to live after serving their country. We are now a 341 bed skilled nursing care facility and our Residents are Minnesota Veterans and their spouses. We have many ways you can contribute to the lives of our Veterans through volunteering here;
Adult Day Center Volunteer, Chapel Escort, Pet Visitor Volunteer, One on One Visitor, Rehabilitation Therapy Escort, Recreation Activities Volunteer or volunteer as a one-time or regular group of friends, co- workers, family, faith group, or student/ alumni group.

To learn more about the volunteer roles go to;
http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/org401290.jsp

To learn more about the Minnesota Veterans Homes go to;
http://mn.gov/mdva/homes/minneapolis/

And feel free to contact me!
Thank you kindly,
Erin Betlock 
Volunteer Services Coordinator
Minnesota Veterans Home- Minneapolis
direct 612.548.5751 
[email protected]

Vietnam Veterans Recognized in St. Cloud

Jim Kellogg, American Legion Department of Minnesota Commander: Rick Miller, Mayor of Waite ACE_0047 finalPark, Minn.; Mick Aguirre, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Department of Minnesota Senior Vice Commander; Barry Bahl, St. Cloud VA Health Care System Director;  and Ken Klein, Paralyzed Veterans of America Department of Minnesota President, were recognized for their service in the Vietnam War by Secretary of Veteran Affairs Robert McDonald at a stakeholder meeting at the St. Cloud VA on March 25, 2016.

The St. Cloud VA Health Care System, designated as a Commemorative Partner in the national Vietnam War Commemoration, is committed to publicly thanking and honoring Vietnam Veterans and their families.

Authorized by Congress, established under the Secretary of Defense, and launched by the President in May 2012, the Vietnam War Commemoration recognizes all men and women who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975.  Nine million Americans, approximately 7 million living today, served during that period, and the Commemoration makes no distinction between Veterans who served in-county, in-theater, or were stationed elsewhere during those 20 years.  All answered the call of duty.

By presidential proclamation issued on May 25, 2012, the Commemoration extends from its inaugural event on Memorial Day 2012 through Veterans Day 2025.

To learn more about the Vietnam War Commemoration, go to:
www.vietnamwar50th.com.