SALEM - Siblings Garry L. Morrison and Linda L. Skidmore opened their checkbooks Monday in appreciation of area veterans, each donating $250 to help the veterans van transportation program operated by Salem AMVETS Post 45.
"We wanted to do something for the veterans," Morrison said.
Neither Morrison nor his sister served in the armed forces, but their brother served in the U.S. Army. Both said they always want to help veterans because of what veterans have done and are still doing to help the country.
Salem AMVETS Post 45 2nd Vice Commander Frank Faulkiner Jr., left, and Commander Steve Galchick, right, accept donations of $250 each from Salem siblings Garry L. Morrison and Linda L. Skidmore for the veterans van transportation program operated by post members. The checks were presented on Veterans Day on Monday, just prior to a dinner hosted for area service veterans. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
"These courageous people are our fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, giving their lives so we can have a free nation to pray as we wish, vote as we wish and all other freedoms we enjoy in this great United States of America," Skidmore wrote in a note explaining their donation.
The van transportation program helps transport veterans to their medical appointments, courtesy of Salem AMVETS Post 45, which provides the free service to veterans who are members of the post.
Frank Faulkiner, 2nd Vice Commander of Salem AMVETS Post 45, serves as the coordinator for the transport program. He explained the post covers all costs associated with the vans, including repairs, maintenance and gasoline. The fleet includes a 15-passenger van, which is also used by the color guard and honor guard, and two smaller vans.
"We take care of the veterans and make sure they get where they need to go," he said.
He estimated the three volunteer drivers make 20 to 30 trips a month and he also helps out with the driving sometimes. They make trips to Wade Park and University Hospitals in Cleveland, and they also go to veterans clinic facilities in Canton, Warren, Youngstown, Parma and Calcutta. If they have to drop a veteran off for an overnight stay, they pick them up for the trip home when they're ready.
Salem AMVETS Post 45 Commander Steve Galchick said the donations from Morrison and Skidmore mean everything to him. Donations like that help to keep the van program going, although he said they would continue to offer the service regardless.
Any veteran who has paid dues to the AMVETS can get a free ride to a VA clinic. The cost of a regular membership is $28 with an honorable discharge and proof of service in the armed forces or reserves. For Sons of AMVETS, the cost is $30. The cost for auxiliary members is $35. They also have social members.
Galchick, whose father Bill served in World War II, said Veterans Day is an important day for veterans, but he also said that veterans should be thanked every day for their service, not just on the holiday. When he sees someone in a store wearing a hat or coat or sign of their service, he thanks them.
For a veteran, he said "that really makes a difference."
"They sacrificed so much of their lives for the freedoms of this country. We can do something for them," he said.
Anyone interested in making a donation to the program or any of the services offered by the AMVETS for veterans can call 330-337-8505.