A women's service group is raising money for a new project to benefit military veterans.
The Veteran's First Fund is the brainchild of Pat McFall, state regent for the Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR. She said her organization hopes to raise at least $150,000 to endow the fund, which would help qualified veterans with minor expenses not covered by existing programs.
“Basically it will be a hand up that might help them get back on their feet,” McFall said. “For some in the autumn of their life, it may just help them have a better day.”
In the blisteringly hot summer of 2011, for example, DAR heard about an Oklahoma veteran who was confined by medical problems to his apartment, which had no air conditioning. Within three days, the group acquired and installed an air conditioning unit, improving the veteran's quality of life.
The same summer, the group provided a palliative care unit with three refrigerators.
The new fund would provide a resource pool from which DAR could draw to respond quickly to similar needs.
Requests for assistance would be vetted by the chief of voluntary services and a volunteer service assistant at veterans' hospitals in Oklahoma City and Muskogee, McFall said. The DAR state regent would decide which requests to approve.
State regents serve two-year terms. McFall's term began about two months ago.
McFall, who has been a volunteer service assistant, saw for herself the need for a fund to help veterans transition from hospital to assisted living center, from living on the street to having a home.
“What we're wanting to fund and cover are the things that are not included in the veteran's medical care,” she said. “It (the fund) is there to bridge the gap.”
In a PowerPoint presentation, McFall highlighted six goals:
• To raise money and awareness for veteran needs that may go unanswered through lack of specific services.
• To serve as a monetary bridge between annual stand downs that assist homeless or needy veterans.
• To provide additional funding for women's resources within the VA facilities. (Clothing or day care for work force entry or educational transitioning.)
• To provide short-term sponsorship of homeless veterans.
• To assist caregivers' support groups.
• To meet other needs identified by facility professionals.
At this point, McFall's organization has raised only about $30,000 — well short of the $150,000 funding goal.
“Right now I'm doing grassroots efforts with our 2,800 members selling things and getting donations from them,” she said. “I want to get grants or other assistance from companies.”
She emphasized that she is willing to meet with any business or group to discuss the fund.
Individuals can donate clothes to the Veterans Affairs hospitals, she said. Large sizes always are needed.
Financial donations may be made to the fund by emailing McFall at PRMcFall@aol.com or by calling 844-8824.
Contributors will receive a receipt from the group's bonded treasurer.
Basically it will be a hand up that might help them get back on their feet. For some in the autumn of their life, it may just help them have a better day.”