Tournament will benefit local DAV chapter

When you give local, it stays local.

That’s the basic message that members of local Disabled American Veterans Chapter 75 in Warren County are hoping local residents will take into consideration.

Walt Simpson, Department of Pennsylvania second junior vice commander, explained, “DAV 75 is the lead organization in the area for raising money to cover the cost of the vans that transport veterans to Pittsburgh, Erie, and Cleveland clinics.”

Those vans, according to Simpson, transported more than 800 people to appointments last year, accumulating more than 85,000 miles in wear and tear between the three vehicles that are currently in service. He also reported that the vehicles need to be replaced every three years to ensure safe travel.

To help defray the costs it incurs, the local DAV hosts several events annually, including two fishing tournaments: the Giordano Memorial Tournament in May and the Brant and Field Tournament in June.

This year, Grizzly Gary Wert and management from the Eagles Club are teaming up to sponsor a third tournament, a carp tournament in July.

In addition to providing transportation, the local DAV has also helped by purchasing a building in Sheffield that is used to house veterans that come down from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home in Erie. According to Simpson, the local DAV recently had to install a new furnace as well as a new handicap-accessible bathroom, both of which were expensive.

“We really need to put vinyl siding up to help with the heat loss, but it’s just very expensive to do all of this at once,” said Simpson. “There’s no such thing as adequate funding.”

Currently, there are only about 20 to 25 people who work for the DAV locally to help organize events, drive veterans to appointments, and coordinate fundraising efforts in contrast to the 230 members of the DAV and more than 800 veterans that are served in the area.

“That’s why people need to realize they need to donate local,” said Simpson. “When you donate to a national foundation, only a small portion comes back to the area.”

A member of the DAV for 22 years, Simpson also stressed that they are not to be confused with the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, a group, he said, that has been under investigation for its practices that allegedly do not adequately benefit veterans.

“They send out these little calculators that you can buy at the store for a dollar along with some stickers that guilt you into donating,” he said. “Really, they haven’t done anything for veterans. If it’s not right with veterans, it’s not right with me.”

A CNN investigative report revealed the DVNF received nearly $60 million in donations since it began operations in 2007, but has yet to provide evidence of any significant services to disabled veterans. “Hundreds of millions of dollars of our charitable dollars intended to help veterans is being squandered and wasted by opportunists and by individuals and companies who see it as a profit-making opportunity,” said Daniel Borochoff, president of CharityWatch.

“Locally, you know where the money is going. You can actually see the vans throughout town. They exist,” Simpson said.

To donate, contact DAV Chapter 75 by calling 489-0202.