Union Front: On the Vanguard for Veterans


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UAW Region 9 Members Donate Van to Help Those Who Served Get to Medical Appointments

The Bath Veterans Administration Medical Center is in a rural part of western New York State 100 miles southeast of Buffalo. Sometimes it isn’t easy for area veterans to get to and from their medical appointments at the facility.

There’s distance to consider: The hospital serves many veterans over a large geographical area. Some veterans cannot afford the expense of traveling back and forth, especially those who have limited funds and multiple appointments. Still, others may no longer be able to drive and don’t have family or friends who can readily take them to every appointment.

“If they don’t have a ride, they don’t get to their medical appointments and they don’t get care,” said Lynn Dinehart, the volunteer recreation and service manager for the Bath facility.

When there’s a need in the community, especially with our veterans, that’s when UAW members step up. The UAW Western New York Region 9 Veterans Committee has helped veterans clear these hurdles by donating passenger vans to the Bath facility, as well as to the Buffalo chapter of the Disabled American Veterans. On Aug. 31, it made its latest van donation for veterans at the Region 9 headquarters in suburban Buffalo.

“This is a great event here today. The veterans’ committee here in Region 9 does so many great things. But the one thing that sticks in my mind is they do it from the heart,” said UAW Region 9 Director Terry Dittes.

From the heart indeed. The committee raises money through gate collections at UAW-represented workplaces in the region. It also hosts a Veterans Appreciation 5K Run, its largest fundraiser. Last year nearly 200 runners participated and more than $16,000 was raised. This year’s event is set for noon on Nov. 5, at UAW Local 686, in Lockport, New York.

“Our members are very caring and very giving at all of our plants,” said Guy Newell, president of Local 774 in Tonawanda, New York, and chairperson of the veterans committee. “Every time we go to the members, they are always willing to give.”

Newell said his father once told him that it’s the little things in life that matter the most, like the Monte Carlo nights, Super Bowl parties, picnics and other outings that our members set up for the veterans at the facility.

“It’s a great place. The patients are great,” Newell said as U.S. government license plates were being installed on the van, which has a sticker price of more than $33,000. “Bath is a great hospital to volunteer for and help out at. We take the patients fishing. We take them out for ice cream. The patients, it puts a smile on their faces.”

The veterans committee has also built a bike shed for veterans; the bikes are used to get around the sprawling facility. The committee also supports numerous other area veterans’ organizations with labor and funds.

“The people on the committee are super, great. I can call them on the phone and they are right there,” Newell said, adding that the support the committee receives from the region and the International is critical to its success.

Vince Piscopo

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