Letters

Letters 10-27-2014

Paging Doctor Dan: The doctor’s promise to repeal Obamacare reminds me of the frantic restaurant owner hurrying to install an exhaust fan after the kitchen burns down. He voted 51 times to replace the ACA law; a colossal waste of money and time. It’s here to stay and he has nothing to replace it.

Evolution Is Real Science: Breathtaking inanity. That was the term used by Judge John Jones III in his elegant evisceration of creationist arguments attempting to equate it to evolutionary theory in his landmark Kitzmiller vs. Dover Board of Education decision in 2005.

U.S. No Global Police: Steven Tuttle in the October 13 issue is correct: our military, under the leadership of the President (not the Congress) is charged with protecting the country, its citizens, and its borders. It is not charged with  performing military missions in other places in the world just because they have something we want (oil), or we don’t like their form of government, or we want to force them to live by the UN or our rules.

Graffiti: Art Or Vandalism?: I walk the [Grand Traverse] Commons frequently and sometimes I include the loop up to the cistern just to go and see how the art on the cistern has evolved. Granted there is the occasional gross image or word but generally there is a flurry of color.

NMEAC Snubbed: Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) is the Grand Traverse region’s oldest grassroots environmental advocacy organization. Preserving the environment through citizen action and education is our mission.

Vote, Everyone: Election Day on November 4 is fast approaching, and now is the time to make a commitment to vote. You may be getting sick of the political ads on TV, but instead, be grateful that you live in a free country with open elections. Take the time to learn about the candidates by contacting your county parties and doing research.

Do Fluoride Research: Hydrofluorosilicic acid, H2SiF6, is a byproduct from the production of fertilizer. This liquid, not environmentally safe, is scrubbed from the chimney of the fertilizer plant, put into containers, and shipped. Now it is a ‘product’ added to the public drinking water.

Meet The Homeless: As someone who volunteers for a Traverse City organization that works with homeless people, I am appalled at what is happening at the meetings regarding the homeless shelter. The people fighting this shelter need to get to know some homeless families. They have the wrong idea about who the homeless are.

Home · Articles · News · Features · Drivers Wanted
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Drivers Wanted

Disabled Vets could use some helping hands behind the wheel

Patrick Sullivan - May 20th, 2013  

A couple of volunteers are looking for more volunteers to help get veterans in need of medical treatment to their destinations.

In January, the Grand Traverse Area Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter 38 took over a program that provides vets free transportation to Veterans Administration hospitals in Saginaw, Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Volunteer and DAV officer Pete Hunt said there is a growing number of veterans in the area who need transportation for medical appointments.

TOOK OVER FROM THE COUNTY

The Grand Traverse County veteran’s affairs office used to schedule the rides, but it was decided that the DAV chapter was better suited to handle the job, Hunt said.

“What it comes down to is they were very busy up there so we took over,” said John Lefler, a volunteer who coordinates the transportation schedule. “There’s nothing negative we want to say about the county. It works out better if we have it, that’s all.”

And it does work out better now, Hunt said. In recent years, the county’s Veteran’s Affairs office was having trouble recruiting volunteer drivers.

Hunt and Lefler said since the DAV chapter took over in January, they’ve focused on recruiting drivers and they’ve found them.

They’ve got eight drivers signed up and certified and six more are in the process of getting approved.

To become a driver, volunteers need to undergo a physical at the Saginaw VA hospital, they need to undergo a background check, and they need to be fingerprinted.

Lefler said he hopes to recruit 30 volunteer drivers to make sure the DAV can cover everybody’s needs.

“People go away on vacation, they are snowbirds in the winter time, some of them drive just once a month,” Lefler said.

TRANSPORTS VETS, DISABLED OR NOT

Typically a little over half of the volunteer drivers are vets. “Most of the volunteers are veterans, but they don’t have to be,” Hunt said.

The transportation service is exclusively for vets, however.

The local DAV members represent a subset of veterans who were injured in the line of duty. There are around 330 DAV members in Grand Traverse County, Hunt said.

The group has experienced a wide variety of disabilities. A lot of DAV members suffer from the effects of exposure to Agent Orange, Hunt said. Some of them were disabled in combat; others in training.

“You could have fallen down an elevator shaft in the Pentagon, if you’re on duty, that’s service connected,” Hunt said.

Hunt and Lefler are both “boots on the ground” veterans of Vietnam. They both served in the Army.

VA BETTER THAN IT USED TO BE

Hunt said his view of the VA hospital system has turned around completely since he got back from Vietnam. In those days, he wanted nothing to do with the Veteran’s Administration.

Back then, Hunt said, the VA’s reputation for providing shoddy care was well deserved.

Now, he believes the system is well run and offers good care for vets. It’s better, he thinks, than an ordinary hospital, because VA doctors only see veterans and they understand their needs and problems.

It is also a lot more affordable for veterans to get care through the VA rather than other hospitals, which can charge enough to bankrupt a vet living on disability.

Hunt believes the VA system has really gotten good in the last 10 years, after revelations about the poor quality of care at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. became front page news and made the name of that hospital synonymous with the notion that the country was failing to take care of its returning veterans.

Hunt credits politicians and military leaders who came up through the ranks frustrated about the quality of the VA with making changes.

“They’re now in positions of authority to try to make sure that doesn’t happen again, or that it doesn’t happen on their watch,” Hunt said.

LOTS OF NEED FOR TRANSPORT

The need for free transportation from Traverse City to VA hospitals or clinics throughout the state has grown in recent years, Hunt said.

Some of the demand is from veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan who need specialized care.

Some of it comes from an older generation of vets who now need more frequent and more intensive care.

And the need for rides has increased in general due to the economy. Tough times in the past few years have made it hard for many vets or their families to afford car trips downstate.

“If you can drive, please let us know,” Hunt said.

The local DAV chapter was established in 1938 for Grand Traverse County, Hunt said. Now that the chapter has taken over responsibility for coordinating transport for all area vets who need it, the group is in the process of changing its name and the area that it serves.

The new DAV will serve Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie, Kalkaska and Antrim counties.

For vets who need rides or anyone who wants to volunteer, go to www.gtadav.us or call (231) 313-9357.

 
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