I am Edwin B. Allison, commander of the DAV, Frank L. Bradford Chapter 18 of Marshall County. This is the beginning of my second year as the Chapter’s commander.

When I’m in the Arab area or talking to people from Arab, I always hear, “There is no DAV Chapter in Arab anymore, it closed down,”

Well I’m here to tell everyone, the Arab DAV Chapter is still alive and well and serving our veterans countywide.

We have donated more than 7,000 hours the past 12 months helping sick and injured veterans, their widows and orphans.

In 2009, the Arab DAV Chapter 18 was renamed in honor of Frank L. Bradford, a prominent resident of Arab and veterans advocate.

Frank was also a founding member of the Arab DAV Chapter 18. When the Albertville and Guntersville DAV Chapters closed down, our membership decided to move our meeting location to Guntersville in 2010 to better cover and serve the county veterans’ population and their needs and our expanding membership.

We are still the “Arab” DAV and always will be, however, for now, we meet at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, 1101 Sunset Drive, Guntersville, AL 35976, on the second Monday of each month.

We eat at 6 p.m., and meet shortly thereafter. All members and eligible veterans are cordially invited to attend and see the changes we have made lately and become part of the chapter’s activities.

We have more than 305 members from across Marshall and adjacent counties, making us the second largest veterans organization in the county behind the Boaz VFW post.

We continue to operate and maintain our own van transportation network transporting veterans from the Guntersville Veteran Administration (VA) Community Oriented Clinic (CBOC) to the Birmingham VA Medical Center (VAMC).

These veterans come from Marshall and all adjacent counties.

For the membership year ending on June 30, 2019, we ran 197 trips transporting a total 554 passengers and logged 28,298 miles. It costs the chapter between $7,500 and $10,000 each year to operate and maintain the van.

We must raise this money through fundraisers and donations.

Our chapter’s biggest fundraiser is our annual golf tournament held in September of each year to support the van (Sept. 6 this year).

We are continuously in need of new drivers to operate the van. Anyone can volunteer to drive as long as they have a good driving record and have a clean record.

Any readers interested in making donations, volunteering to drive or participate in this year’s golf tournament, may contact me at the below address and phone number.

Businesses, churches, industries and others are encouraged to check us out and help financially, when and where possible.

Our veteran’s outreach service programs have also grown as we continue to reach out and provide more services to meet the needs of our veteran brothers and sisters and as we develop new sources of funding.

We help find clothing, food, medical equipment, temporary housing and pay bills in financial emergencies.

We visit our fellow veterans in local hospitals, nursing homes and State Veterans Homes. We support 3 Hot’s and a Cot in Birmingham and the Tut Fann State Veterans Home in Huntsville.

Our Chapter Service Officers (CSO) help veterans fill out claims and other paperwork necessary to obtain earned benefits. We currently maintain offices in the city public libraries across the county, as follows:

• Arab – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; last Saturday of the month;

• Boaz – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., first and third Tuesdays of the month;

• Albertville – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., first and third Wednesdays of the month;

• Guntersville – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., first and third Thursdays of the month,

Other times are available by appointment.

We work with the Veterans Court System, Justice for Veterans, in Marshall County.

We mentor and assist these veterans in this program by filing claims and with drug and alcohol abuse programs.

We also help them find gainful employment in the community.

We help women veterans transition back into civilian life and maneuver through the VA health care system as it transitions toward meeting their specific needs beyond male veteran’s needs.

Our next big step is the implementation of a grassroots level suicide awareness, intervention and prevention program – The Suicide safer Communities Program.

The country has between 20 and 22 veterans commit suicide each day. When you add in the suicides from across a community, such as law enforcement (the unspoken suicides), firefighters, EMTs, hospital staff, survivors of domestic violence, prisoners in correctional facilities, the mentally ill, and on and on, the numbers get to be astronomical.

In closing, the Arab DAV is still alive and well and growing in our mission to serve our community and our brother and sister veterans, in general, and our sick and injured brother and sister veterans, their widows and orphans, specifically.

We will be more visible in Arab and the rest of the county as well, as time progresses and as we get back on track doing what we are all about – helping veterans.

Anyone seeking more information, desiring to join us, needing assistance or wanting to make a donation, can contact me: 256-572-9106; or eballison52@yahoo.com.

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