The Highs and Lows of VSOs

The Disabled American Veterans has a mobile service office fleet. Vans, complete with a trained mobile service officer, visit areas in an effort to be make DAV services more accessible to veterans. As a member of the DAV, I receive organizational mailings, but toss all except the magazine. It seems I have been getting letters telling me a DAV mobile service office with live, mobile service officer will be in my area and I can head over to get disability-related assistance.

With my interest piqued I looked more closely and found this vehicle would be parked at a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership. I decided to pass. The next mailing came, and again the van would be in a Harley parking lot, albeit a different one. Random checks around the country showed mobile service vans do hit DAV chapter lots. (No HD dealerships nearby?)

There are ties between military veterans and Harley-Davidson on many levels, but of particular interest, Harley has provided million-dollar grants since 2006 to keep the DAV’s mobile fleet running. The DAV announced the latest grant Aug. 4. Dubbed Harley’s Heroes since 2007, the vans make their way across the country and have set up shop at nearly 300 Harley dealerships nationwide.

I phoned the HD dealership in Fort Washington, Md., to confirm the van’s appearance. It turned out the Saturday in question was a big event day for this purveyor of upwardly priced bikes. The thought of pushing my way through a mob wearing its “rebel without a clue” bikin’ togs sent me trolling elsewhere for the info I needed.

What brought this up was an initial call to a veterans’ service organization. I happen to be a life member of this VSO (It’s not MOAA, and I’m not naming names.) and had never called them despite more than a decade of membership. It was their lucky day.

It took me at least half an hour to get through to clarify some educational benefit items. When I finally spoke to a representative, she explained the organization primarily helped those currently leaving the service (and not people like me, with challenging and thought-provoking questions).

“Then why would anyone become a life member if you only help those at separation?” I asked.

She did not know, but would have someone get back to me. “On the life membership or educational query?” I asked. “The life member question,” she said.

No one called. And they wonder why people seem “miffed.”

Any thoughts on the services provided by Veteran Service Organizations?

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