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TELL CITY - At least three days a week, a van travels to Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics in and around Louisville, Ky. In the van are local veterans who without the Disabled American Veterans van and the volunteers who drive it, would not have a way to their appointments.
At first, American Legion Post 213 Commander Gene Risse said, volunteers drove veterans to appointments in their own vehicles. Then in 2004, local veterans raised enough money to pay for half of the cost of a van while DAV paid the rest.
There were only two drivers at first, he said, because they were the only ones who were able to pass the physical and other tests required to drive the van.
"It's good in a way because you have people's lives in your hand," he said. Now, the county has five volunteers, Risse, Ray Black, Dan Goble, Larry Manley and Jasper McMahon, but due to medical issues, only Black and Manley are currently eligible to transport veterans.
Risse said the drivers volunteer their own time and don't receive any pay. He volunteers, he said, because "I'm always wanting to do something for veterans and I'm just a veteran helping a veteran."
Manley, who drives a few days a week, said there are a lot of veterans in the county who rely on this service. "There are a lot of older World War II veterans," he said. "And the need for the service keeps growing." Manley said he also volunteers because he's helping out a fellow veteran.
This is why Wayne Hubert, Perry County Veterans Services officer, nominated all five men for driving the van. "They donate their time with no pay to take veterans to their appointments," Huber said. "That's pretty dog-gone significant."
He said there are a lot of older veterans in the county, and without the DAV van, they would either miss their appointments or family members would have to take off work to take them.
Some veterans, he added, don't even have family members in the area to take them so it's a very valuable service to the community. "They have a love for their fellow man," Hubert said, adding they're a key part of getting veterans where they need to go.
Nominate Your Hometown Hero
To nominate someone for the Hometown Hero Award, send their name, telephone number and a few words on why you're nominating them to Hometown Heroes, The Perry County News, Attention Janet Robb, P.O. Box 309, Tell City, IN 47586. Information may also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Robb at 547-3424.