Mower County vets chipping in for new van
AUSTIN — Mower County veterans organizations and some others connected with the military have raised at least $15,500 for a new, larger van to take veterans on the 200-mile round trip to the Veterans Administration hospital in the Twin Cities.
The current van can only comfortably seat eight veterans and has more than 160,000 miles on it but the new one will be able to handle 12, said Wayne Madson, the county's veterans service officer.
They have had one break-down. "It was just a mess," he said. "I don't want to go through that again." They had to send other vehicle there to take the veterans to the hospital.
A new van the size needed costs about $50,000 but they have found one for about $39,000, he said. He is still hoping to order early in 2014.
Most of the money comes from service clubs that have bought several vans since 1991. Mower County has an agreement with them that if they buy the van, it will take care of everything else, he said. Drivers are volunteers, he said.
For this van, clubs have held special fundraisers and the family of a man killed in Vietnam sent in a check for $1,000, he said.
The demand is growing because more veterans are getting older and need more medical care, he said. The county has nearly 3,000 veterans.