TICKET TO RIDE

Shawano VA receives new van
By: 

Carol Wagner, Leader Correspondent


Photo by Carol Wagner Shawano County recently received a new 2017 Ford Transit van to take veterans to their health care appointments in Green Bay, Appleton and Milwaukee. Shown are, kneeling from left, Jennifer Langlois, VA office assistant; Jerome Strupp, driver; Nick Benzinger, Shawano County Veterans Service officer; and drivers Dennis Bohm and Chuck Kurhajec; back row, drivers Kirby Shapiro, Tom Cotter, Orv Westphal and Richard Ready.

Last week the Disabled American Veterans, through its nine-decade partnership with the Ford Motor Co., donated a 2017 Ford Transit van to the DAV Transportation Network in Shawano County.

The van will be used to take veterans to their health appointments in Green Bay, Appleton and Milwaukee.

“This vehicle will help us ensure veterans are able to use the care they’ve earned through their service and sacrifices,” said Nick Benzinger, Shawano County Veterans Service officer.

The DAV is a nonprofit organization that, among other things, operates a fleet of vehicles with volunteer drivers to get veterans to their appointments at no cost. The appointments are coordinated by the VA office in Shawano along with the Wisconsin DAV and the Veterans Health Care Administration.

“It’s a fitting way for us to thank them and keep a promise we made when they stood up to defend our freedom,” Benzinger said.

Currently there are 12 volunteer drivers. They drove 59,993 miles last year and put in 2,481 volunteer hours.
Benzinger would like more volunteer drivers.

‘If we had 20 guys, they could drive less,” he said.

Dennis Bohm has been a volunteer driver for 14 years. So far he has 6,300 hours and around 160,000 miles. He is pleased with the new van.

“I think it’s really nice and will be more accommodating for riders to get in and out easier,” Bohm said.

He also encourages others to volunteer to drive.

“You really meet a lot of nice people,” he said. “It helps out veterans and those who have served and their families.”

The new van is not wheelchair accessible; veterans need to get in and out by themselves.

To volunteer, contact Jennifer Langlois, office assistant at the Shawano County Veterans Service office, at 715-526-9183.