Disabled American Veterans Chapter 2 is seeing an increase in local veterans who need a set of wheels to get around.
The DAV is trying to step up its program to deliver wheelchairs, motorized chairs, scooters and walkers to veterans who need them.
“Since Thanksgiving, we’ve given out 20 wheelchairs and scooters,” said DAV program chairman Bob Cooper. “This program has been in existence for many years in our chapter, but not at the level we have now.”
The program kicks in when a veteran contacts DAV Chapter 2 and requests a wheelchair or scooter. If one is available, a couple of members deliver the unit after it’s been checked and cleaned.
The wheelchairs and scooters come from donations. Cooper said he always is looking for a donation because it is hard to tell a disabled veteran no wheelchairs are available.
A recent powered wheelchair was donated by a DAV Chapter 2 member who had recently died. This veteran had cerebral palsy and had the powered chair that could be controlled from a joystick on the chair’s arm. When the members of Chapter 2 took possession of the chair, there was already a veteran requesting a chair and it was delivered over a weekend. Before that, a standard wheelchair was delivered to a veteran who is a double amputee.
Sometimes the program has to put out some dollars to replace a battery.
“Batteries cost around $100, so we need monetary donations as well,” Chapter 2 member Don White said.
The program takes in only wheelchairs, scooters and walkers that help veterans get around. Cooper said they don’t accept medical beds, but they did get a lift chair that went to a veteran’s mother.
“The veteran was caring for his mother, but was finding it difficult to lift her up,” Cooper said. “He just couldn’t lift her any more, so we gave him the lift chair to help him continue to care for his mom.”
Anyone wanting to donate a wheelchair, scooter or walker can contact DAV Chapter 2 at 330-774-8479. Cooper said the members will pick it up. Any veteran needing one of the devices can call the same number to make a request.
While the wheelchair program is a big program for the members, it is not the only thing the local chapter does.
“DAV Chapter 2 is 101 years old this year,” Cooper said. “The first DAV chapter was started in Cincinnati in 1920.”
Locally there are 400 members on the books, but only about 30 who are active. That small group helps with the wheelchair program and with food for needy veterans in the Mahoning Valley. On Thursday, it picked up 17 senior boxes and more than 40 bags of food to deliver.
Another activity is the chapter’s honor guard that takes part in veteran funerals.
“We have been at 19 funerals so far this year,” Cooper said. “We usually attend veterans funerals at the Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.”
A final task the DAV Chapter 2 members handle is the annual flag retirement. They perform the proper ceremony that retires American flags with honor. Because of the pandemic, the flag retirement was not held and Cooper said many flags will be disposed of this year.
The flag retirement is done by burning them in a ceremony, and this year Chapter 2 will perform the ceremony May 28 — time to be announced — at the Handyman Hardware store at South Raccoon and Kirk roads.
“We will have Boy Scouts assisting, and the Austintown Fire Department will be there,” Cooper said.
He praised Handyman Hardware for supporting veterans’ causes.
As for donating funds to the wheelchair cause, Cooper said checks can be mailed to Disabled American Veterans Chapter 2, 4496 Mahoning Ave., Austintown, Ohio, 44515.