DAV had a dedication ceremony at “new” location.
It’s been more than a year since the Disabled American Veterans Jim Booe Chapter 86 moved from Flagler Beach to 27
Florida Park Drive, but it didn’t seem quite right to treasurer Larry Rekart. That changed on Monday, Jan. 9, when a flag was raised to the top of the new flagpole.
“It wouldn’t be a veterans building without a flagpole,” Rekart said.
The flagpole from the Flagler Beach site had been cut and brought to the new location, but then they had to have it installed.
Local officials gathered to help officially dedicate the building.
“This was the last thing on the punch card list,” Rekart said. “We had to have a mini celebration after a year of hard work.”
Chapter 86 works in conjunction with the Salvation Army and the Veterans Administration to provide transportation and veteran services to disabled veterans. Rekart, a veteran of Vietnam, is particularly proud of the chapter’s work with homeless veterans.
“Working with the Salvation Army and the VA, two years ago Flagler County became the first in Florida, the first in the country, to come up with Functional Zero Homeless veterans,” Rekart said. “We had members who went out into the woods to find veterans and we opened our doors, as did the other veteran organizations in town.”
By the end of 2015, Rekart said the county was notified that every vet who wanted to be was off the streets.
A program the organization thought might be phasing out, Veterans in Transition, was initially started for Vietnam Veterans, but it became evident there were still veterans to help.
“We realized there was a whole group of people coming back after rotating out of Afghanistan and Iraq every six months, over and over again,” Rekart said.
Getting to and from doctor appointments can be a challenge for some veterans. Rekart spoke about one couple he met, an older veteran and his wife.
“The man told me he had a doctor appointment but no way to get there,” Rekart said. “He said he could get someone to stay with his wife, but he couldn’t drive.”
Rekart told him, “your problems are over,” and explained the transportation service. The DAV drives veterans to and from their appointment wherever they might be -- Jacksonville, Orlando, Gainesville, Daytona Beach and even St. Petersburg.
Rekart knows first-hand the frustration of the paperwork involved.
“I had my own case that I tried to file when we were in Massachusetts,” he said. “I was trying to wind my way through the myriad of paperwork and forms when I went into the Springfield, Mass. DAV office. The woman told me pretty much what we tell our members, “your problems are over.”
That experience was in part what prompted Rekart to volunteer at the DAV.
“It was that and an article in your paper about the DAV in Flagler Beach, and how they were helping veterans,” he said. “And as they say, ‘the rest is history.’”
Rekart is one of nearly 50 volunteers who do what they can to help local veterans. He said the organization is blessed with some generous benefactors, a big help for those trying to serve the nearly 500 DAV members.
“They realize all the money they give us stays in Flagler County,” Rekart said.
The group has an active Women’s Auxiliary. T be a member of the DAV, the veteran has to have a disability or have filed a claim and given an award of zero to 100%, while the auxiliary is open to anyone who wants to help.
Whether it’s offering Tai Chi classes, preparing Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, or helping out a family in time of crisis, the DAV is there to help.