Area DAV works to aid Valley vets
AUSTINTOWN — Disabled American Veterans Youngstown Chapter 2 continues its mission to meet the needs of local veterans, appearing all over the Mahoning Valley to accept donations that will always be used locally.
“We have a roster of 775,” said Don White, vice commander. “Of that number, 400 of them are here in Mahoning County and between 20 to 25 are active. Many are on our injured reserve list.”
He said most of the members would love to do more, but age and health prevent that in a lot of cases. While the active numbers are small, those who do help out are quite busy.
Among the fundraisers, the local chapter hands out special flags. Fundraising chairman Bob Cooper said the flags come from Calvary Cemetery, which collects them after Memorial Day and used to burn them. Instead of burning a perfectly good flag, DAV Chapter 2 members collect them, then will hand them out to people who will display them in gardens or around their homes.
“Each one has flown over the grave of a veteran,” said Cooper. “It’s a good way to continue to honor the fallen.”
Many who accept one of the flags will contribute by placing a donation into the group’s collection jar. The members who work the DAV tables never ask for money, but most volunteer the donations.
The local chapter also has other programs that bring in funding. It has one of the largest color guards in the area that is made up of 14 individuals.
“Besides our rifle carriers, we have individuals carrying the U.S. flag, the Ohio flag, the POW (prisoners of war) flag, the DAV flag, the Purple Heart flag, and the flags from the five branches of military,” White said.
The color guard takes part in events all over the tri-county area. On the Sunday before Memorial Day the color guard was present during the church service at Church at the Center in Poland, when Pastor Tim Ginter honored veterans. It more recently helped open an annual Corvette club show and will be at the ninth annual 360 Veterans Benefit Run at the Petri Club, 3650 Shady Run Road at 11:45 a.m. Aug. 21 to carry the colors.
Among other fundraisers Chapter 2 uses are the outings at the Austintown Farmers Market and at the Austintown Senior Center’s Junk in the Trunk flea market on Sept. 25.
The group also will be set up at the 175th Canfield Fair, where it will be offering t-shirts for the military branches. It will be located near the Veteran’s Log Cabin on the west end of the fairgrounds next to the Western Reserve Village. The group also will be selling its 18-month calendar at the fair for $12 each.
While all of these things bring in money, the DAV Chapter 2 members work just as hard spending it to help local veterans. The group has 12 to 15 scooters and wheelchairs that any veteran or veteran’s spouse can call and get to use at any time.
On the third Thursday of each month, the chapter gives out about 47 bags of groceries to needy veterans in the Mahoning Valley. It also spends money and time in honoring veterans in area nursing homes. In 2019, the group visited 18 nursing homes in 15 days and pinned 465 veterans, honoring them for their service. The group also installed plaques on the room doors of veterans to let people know a hero lives there.
“Our motto has always been, veterans helping veterans,” Cooper said.
In 2020, the pinning and door plaques were almost non-existent, but Cooper said the membership is hoping to get back to past levels. So far this year, only five have been pinned.
At the Austintown Farmers Market, when members found out market coordinator Shannon Lehn had her shed broken into, they jumped in and built her a new shed to keep market supplies.
Now, Cooper said the group is trying to raise $9,000 to help give a needy veteran a new roof. He said any donations are gladly accepted and can be mailed to Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 2, 4496 Mahoning Ave., No. 286, Austintown, Ohio, 44515.
“We are also looking for four good burn barrels,” he said.
For further information on the DAV Youngstown Chapter 2, call 330-774-8479.