LABELLE -- On Wednesday, April 14 the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter #144 of LaBelle held their annual elections of officers at the Quart House. This Chapter was started in 1984 to help local disabled veterans.
Dav.org states that, “The DAV is a nonprofit charity that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families, helping more than 1 million veterans in positive, life-changing ways each year. Annually, the organization provides more than 240,000 rides to veterans attending medical appointments and assists veterans with well over 160,000 benefit claims. In 2020, DAV helped veterans receive more than $23 billion in earned benefits. DAV’s services are offered at no cost to all generations of veterans, their families and survivors."
DAV is also a leader in connecting veterans with meaningful employment, hosting job fairs and providing resources to ensure they have the opportunity to participate in the American Dream their sacrifices have made possible.
With nearly 1,300 chapters and more than 1 million members across the country, DAV empowers our nation’s heroes and their families by helping to provide the resources they need and ensuring our nation keeps the promises made to them.”
As a nonprofit the DAV relies on donations and other sources for the money to help disabled veterans.
The primary source of money for the local chapter is the flea market at 228 Miller Avenue, LaBelle, they use all of the profits made from the Saturday morning flea market to help local disable veterns. A 20 X 20 booth costs $15 and they have 98 spaces available, during season all 98 spots are filled.
The idea for a flea market was started by Dennis R. Lifford’s in his yard behind the Shell Station on June 6, 1984. Helping him were John Schall, John McNulty, Joe Oliver and Millard Manon. The flea market eventually moved to its current location off of Miller Avenue.
One of the services the profits help fund is transporation of veterans to the West Palm Beach VAMC and the Cape Coral Clinic. Because of COVID-19 restrictions the vans can only transport two Veterans a time and they must sit in the back seats. Veteran must wear a mask at all times while in the van, the service cannot transport wheelchair Veterans.
Disabled American Veterans Van Transport to West Palm Beach VAMC is on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, leaving at 5:30 a.m. return 11 a.m. Transportation to Lee County (Cape Coral Clinic) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday leaving at 5:30 a.m. return 11:00 a.m. To schedule a trip on one of the vans call David Abney Sr., County Veteran Service Officer at 863-675-5255.
The first van used for this service was bought by Hendry County, since then all other vans have been purchased by Chapter #144 using the flea market profits.
They are also always looking for volunteers and disabled veterans to join them. “For some reason, the younger disabled veterans who served in Desert Storm, Iraq or Afghanistan are not willing to join us. I’m not really sure why, but they should, we have been where they are and we can help,” Commander David Randant said.
You do not have to be a disabled veteran to volunteer to help those who served to learn more about what you can do vist https://www.dav.org/help-dav.
LaBelle DAV Chapter 144 meetings are held during September through May, at 7:00 p.m., on the first Thursday of each month at the Christ Central in LaBelle. The DAV can be reached by phone at (863) 612-0300 or visit them online at www.davchapter144.org.