The Disabled American Veterans Chapter 46 staged two simultaneous events Saturday. A fundraiser was held at Fort Stewart’s main exchange and commissary, and a membership drive was held in Walmart’s parking lot.
Chapter 46 Commander Walter Helmick said both events were necessary to raise funds to pay for DAV service officers’ training and to recruit new members.
Current DAV members and those interested in joining the DAV were treated to chips, soft drinks and cheeseburgers cooked fresh by DAV member Frank Scozzafava and Chapter 46 Senior Vice Commander Donald Spencer. Spencer said many of Chapter 46’s current 688 members came by their tent and barbecue grill to help out or just to say “hello.” Two new members were added as a result of the drive, he said.
Helmick said any veteran who was injured or disabled in the line of duty while serving in the U.S. military during a time of war and was not dishonorably discharged is eligible to join the DAV. He said DAV service officers, who all are volunteers, help veterans file and/or appeal claims to the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability compensation.
“Our service officers help veterans put together their (disability compensation) claims,” Helmick said. “We get them the right forms and help them complete all the required paperwork, including the necessary evidence to support their (service-connected disability) claims. We also help veterans get set up for the VA’s new eBenefits program.”
Helmick said that years ago, once a veteran submitted a claim, there was no way to determine the status of the claim. With eBenefits, he said disabled veterans can track their claims from start to finish.
“Here in Hinesville, we also provide transportation to and from local VA clinics for our disabled vets and their surviving spouses,” he said. “We try to help homeless veterans, too. I can’t say enough about Mr. Spencer and Mr. Scozzafava. They work so hard to keep nearly homeless veterans from being evicted.”
Helmick said his chapter conducts fundraisers two or three times a year for spec ific purposes. He said funds raised during Saturday’s event will help pay for service-officer training for one or more members, who then can help other disabled veterans with claims. He said Saturday’s event was successful in raising funds toward that goal.
Helmick and Spencer both said they do not try to force veterans to join their organization. Helmick said they simply invite disabled veterans to take a look at what the DAV is about and what they do for disabled veterans. He said it is important that disabled veterans band together as one voice to tell Congress about those issues that affect them.
“We care about disabled veterans and their families,” said Helmick, reiterating he and his staff are volunteers. “We’re devoted to the disabled veterans in our community.”
For more information about the DAV or to join the Hinesville chapter, call 368-2546 or email email@example.com.