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Making sure ‘no veteran is left behind’
Powered by volunteers, Disabled American Veterans chapter delivers for vets in Alabama’s Tallapoosa County
When you’re sworn to defend, to aim high, to place country above self, asking for help is not an easy thing to do.
“Veterans can have a lot of self-pride, and to be honest, I was one of those guys,” confesses Scott Shoemaker, Commander of the Bill Nichols Chapter (Chapter 13) of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) in Alexander City, Alabama.
“It took me 10 years to get the help I was entitled to as a veteran,” he says. “It can be hard to open up or ask for help.”
Help is exactly why the DAV exists. Founded at the end of World War I, the organization has spent almost 100 years providing continuous service to veterans and their families through a variety of programs.
Jerry Morgan, Commander at the Department of Alabama DAV, remembers a man coming into the office with a hostile attitude. “As I was talking with him, I realized he was in a crisis. Luckily, I was able to get him to see one of our counsellors right away and secure benefits for the services,” explains Morgan.
“I didn’t hear anything for a year, and then one day, he came back in. He sat down with me and said, ‘if I hadn’t come in and spoken to you and your team, I wouldn’t be here today,’” recalls Morgan. “It’s all about the fact that we’re helping get them the services they deserve.”
At the Bill Nichols Chapter, a team of 12 volunteers helps veterans file casework or claims to receive proper benefits, drive veterans to various appointments and run outreach events in the community.
The chapter is small, but certainly mighty. Although only four of the volunteers are drivers, they have already spent around 50 hours and driven close to 3,000 miles this year. The volunteers have also completed over 200 hours of paperwork, which has helped 70 veterans.
“A lot of our veterans who need rides have wheelchairs or walkers,” says Shoemaker. “Our personal vehicles just don’t have the space so we’re very grateful that Enbridge is donating $10,000 towards the purchase of a 10- or 12-seater van.”
At Enbridge, we’re committed to improving the quality of life in the communities near our operations, and our recent $10,000 donation will help the dedicated volunteers of the Bill Nichols Chapter to ensure veterans receive the services they need and deserve.
“I had a 91-year-old World War II veteran come in last week,” says Morgan. “He was applying for benefits for the first time. He got out of service in 1946. You do the math. I’ve been volunteering here for 28 years. The most important thing to me is making sure no veteran is left behind.”
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