Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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.


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.


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.


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.


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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