DAV gives back to the Wiregrass

Sometimes rides are hard to come by, but thank goodness those who bravely served us have friends to pick them up and never let them down.
Published: Jul. 13, 2023 at 4:11 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization provides counseling, rent assistance, and job guidance among many other resources.

Another service is their transportation van which provides weekly rides for veterans to get to and from their medical appointments around the state.

Commander Kerry Edwards began donating his time to the DAV in the year 2000.

“Volunteering is something that you want to do,” Commander Edwards said. “The DAV helped me and that’s my way of giving back.”

Commander Edwards is a veteran himself and his will of service continues as one of the transportation van drivers. Today, he is a transportation warrior.

“The mission is making sure that all veterans are taken care of,” Commander Edwards said.

He drives fellow veterans to and from their medical appointments.

Between the DAV Dothan and Enterprise chapters, the van takes veterans to Montgomery and Tuskegge free of charge.

“We transport you up and then we transport you back and the only thing you have to do is get to this parking space and we’ll take care of the rest,” Commander Daniel Blackman, the chapter commander for DAV Chapter 87, said.

The Dothan chapter van is parked by the clock tower at the Dothan Civic Center parking lot and is ready to roll every Monday and Friday. While the Enterprise chapter transports patients every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Commander Blackman said this service is critical.

“In the southern part of Alabama, there are only two vans that transport veterans,” Commander Blackman said.

After the Dothan transportation van picks up veterans in Dothan, they move on to Headland, Newton, and then meet the Enterprise van in Ozark for patients who need to go to Tuskegee.

Then they continue their trek to Montgomery and on the way they stop by Brundige and Troy.

This service has been around for over a decade.

“A lot of veterans just don’t have the transportation a lot of times to get to Montgomery or Chantilly, because that is over 100 miles either way and so we try to make it easy,” Commander Blackman said.

The van drivers are completely volunteer based.

“It’s our drivers that make the program a success and the credit goes to our drivers that are doing this week after week,” Commander Blackman said.

Drivers, like Commander Edwards, can have an early start to their day of volunteering.

“I usually get up at 3:00 in the morning,” Commander Edwards said. “We leave the police station in Enterprise about 10 minutes until 4. We have a total of 10 stops before we get to Tuskegee.”

These long rides are filled with conversations that can consist of fond memories, or advice and guidance.

Commander Blackman said the best way to thank a veteran is to join their mission.

“If you want to give something back rather than just saying ‘thank you’ to a veteran this is how you can do it,” Commander Blackman said. “This is how you can say thank you. Once or twice a month is all we are asking for.”

To become a volunteer driver for this 501C4 you will need to get a VA physical, background check, and have a valid driver’s license. Drivers don’t have to be a veteran to volunteer. The opportunity is open to everyone.

“We help you with that process,” Commander Blackman said. “We transport you to Montgomery, get you through all of the exams, and the credentials.”

The DAV is always looking for volunteers and is in need of them right now.

Van drivers can spend their time once or twice a month transporting these veterans so they can continue to be their healthiest.

The DAV is an authorized service provider for the VA.

“Everything that we do is geared toward the veterans or veteran families, so any dollars that we raise, any donations for the DAV have to go towards the veteran’s community.”

To volunteer or make a donation to the DAV you can call (334)446-0866.

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