Veterans need funds for new van
By SAMANTHA SINCLAIR
Page 8A - Cherokee Scout Local Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Andrews – About seven years ago, Jack Moody didn’t know the Disabled American Veterans organization had a van that transported veterans to Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville.
For about four years, Moody, who grew up in Buncombe County, drove veterans in his neighborhood to Asheville in his own car or their car if they preferred.
“As time went on, it became a big deal, so I called the volunteer service center in Asheville, and they told me about Samuel Holloway,” Moody said.
Holloway was coordinator of transportation for the DAV van housed at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7620 in Andrews.
“I called Sam, and next thing you know he had me signed up,” Moody said.
Today, Moody is the coordinator of the program and one of eight drivers of the 2007 model van that provides free rides for veterans to the VA hospital in Asheville and VA clinic in Franklin. The van is used as needed, about 12-18 days per month, traveling at least 200 miles in a round trip to Asheville. It has about 285,000 miles on it and accumulates 30,000 miles per year.
The van serves veterans in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon and Swain counties, with about 60 veterans who regularly use it for transportation. If needed, the driver will pick a veteran up at his home, but it is preferred that veterans come to
the VFW in Andrews for pick up.
Moody said the van was well taken care of by Holloway, who passed away in November. It only has minor motor issues. “It’s a matter of time,” he said. “It’s not going to last forever.”
Moody added that he sees it lasting only another couple of years.
Two years ago, veteran organizations of the county started the process to purchase a new 10-passenger van. Half of the cost has to be paid by the local DAV, while the other half is paid for by the national DAV and Veterans Affairs. While Cherokee County commissioners allocated the $12,000 needed for a new van, the process to acquire the van stalled over the years as the cost of a new van increased.
Ruth Limon, veterans services officer for Cherokee County, said if all the veteran organizations in the county pull together to raise and contribute funds, they’ll have the $3,600 more needed to get the new van. “We can do so much when we’re together,” Limon said. “I’m pretty confident by the end of January, we’ll have that money.”
The VFW post in Andrews has already decided to donate $500 toward the purchase of a new van. Many would be able to get to their appointments in Franklin or Asheville,” post Commander Scott Ramler said.
To help raise the funds, Commander Larry Thunder Wolf Limon of The American Legion (Post 96, Murphy, NC) has set up a GoFundMe page, with the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce set as a drop-off location for donations. Checks should be made out to Cherokee County with “DAV van” written in the memo.
Moody said the VA has verbally told him that since the van hasn’t had any major issues yet, the DAV may keep the old van after a new one is purchased. Moody plans to continue to use the old van on those occasions when trips are needed to both Asheville and Franklin on the same day, with the old van taking the shorter trips to Franklin.
With one van, it’s a long day for the driver, and a long wait for the veteran with an appointment in Franklin, he added.
Any veterans needing the van to get to their doctor appointments at the VA clinic in Franklin or the VA hospital in Asheville should contact the Cherokee County Veterans Service Office at 835-8663, or call Moody directly at 361-7522.
Moody is also in need of more volunteer drivers to help veterans. Details about becoming a driver can be found online at DAV.org.