One of the biggest issues that both homeless veterans and disabled veterans have in Cherokee County is access to reliable transportation, whether it is to get to a job or to get to medical services. Recently, veterans in Cherokee County have created and implemented a new program to connect used donated vehicles to veterans who need them most.
The program is the creation of Jim Lindenmayer, director of the Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program (CCHVP), and this year the program has already donated vehicles to four homeless and disabled veterans in Cherokee County. Lindenmayer had worked with both a homeless Navy veteran, who walked to and from his Walmart job nightly for over a year, and a 100-percent service-disabled veteran whose 17-year-old vehicle quit running.
For the homeless veteran, the roughly-3-mile round-trip journey by foot to get to his job was a reality faced every workday, and often was done late at night in bad weather. For the disabled veteran, the once-in-a-lifetime VA grant for a vehicle was no longer an available option, and repairs were going to be worthless for such an old vehicle.
Not having the financial resources to buy a vehicle, the prospects of getting a reliable method of transportation for both veterans were slim. One day, according to Lindenmayer, he got a call from a veteran and his wife in Lake Arrowhead, who had a 1995 car with 195,000 miles that they were no longer using and wanted to donate it to a veteran in need. Initial thoughts were to provide this vehicle to one of the Veteran Vehicle Donation programs that were being advertised through the Internet, said Lindenmayer, but upon research of these programs most of them donated the vehicle to an auction type program where the vehicle was sold and the funds provided back to the agency or organization. Nowhere was a vehicle given to a veteran in need, let alone a local veteran.
After some research and talking to various vehicle donation agencies, we were able to develop a process where we could qualify the veteran in need, and then since CCHVP is part of a 501c19 nonprofit organization - i.e. American Legion Thomas M Brady Post 45 - we could take in the vehicle as a donation, retitle the car and then transfer the title to the veteran in need. The veteran still would have to get tags, insurance, and emissions for operations, but we now had created a way to directly help a veteran in need.
Since the inception of this program earlier this spring, we have arranged donations of four vehicles donated by veterans and non-veterans alike, and provided these vehicles to both homeless and disabled veterans in Cherokee County. The most recent vehicle donation was sponsored by the Soleil Veterans Club of Canton to a disabled Afghanistan veteran. The donation was done anonymously by the widow of a non-veteran who wanted to provide the vehicle to a veteran in the hopes that this program would set an example for other veterans. Working with Dave Miffed, treasurer of the Soleil Veterans Club, and Tom Wise, commander of the Soleil Veterans Club, Lindenmayer was able to provide qualified candidates for donation consideration and the final candidate chosen was Mark Mosley, a disabled Afghanistan Army veteran and his service dog Jolly. In an effort to help pay it forward to other veterans, Mark will be donating his current vehicle, after it is repaired, to a homeless veteran in the Woodstock area.
As with other vehicles donated, Mark Mosely donated his car in early November to the car donation program run out of Thomas M. Brady Post 45 where it was retitled and finally donated to a homeless Navy veteran who needs the car to obtain a better-paying job that will get him and his family finally out of their homeless situation.