VFW collects wheelchairs for disabled vets

By Cheryl Rodewig, THE BAYONET

FORT BENNING Ga. — Named for the medical evacution choppers who lent aid and mobility to wounded Soldiers in Vietnam, Operation Dust Off gives mobility through the gift of an electric wheelchair to disabled veterans, said retired 1st Sgt. Mike Craig, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5180 in Seale, Ala.  His goal is to improve the quality of life for veterans and spouses who gave of themselves for the betterment of the nation, he said.  “There are people out there who at one time wrote a blank check to this country who are not doing so well right now,” he said. “I think it is our responsibility as citizens to do what we can for these people. Some of them have fallen on hard times.”  Craig started collecting electric wheelchairs two weeks ago. So far, he has seven. In exchange for their gift, donors receive a tax write-off for $2,000, a certificate of appreciation from the post and a thank-you note from the recipient.  Many veterans cannot afford electric wheelchairs, even with insurance, Craig said.    “Imagine yourself trapped in your house,” he said. “Imagine yourself not being able to go to the store because you don’t have any mobility. Imagine yourself being out of breath walking from the chair to the bathroom. Being able to move around (is) one of the basic qualities of life, and these people can’t do it. It makes a big difference to these people’s lives.”



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