The Edmond Sun

November 1, 2012

Oklahoma DAR members seek funds to help veterans

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Members of the Oklahoma chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution are known for community involvement in education, preserving historical landmarks, providing scholarships and promoting patriotism.

This women’s service group has taken on a new project raising money to fund an endowment for military veterans.

State Regent for the DAR, Pat McFall of Edmond, is leading her organization to raise money for the Veterans First Fund.

Hoping to raise at least $150,000 to endow the fund, the organization plans to help qualified veterans with minor expenses not covered by existing programs. Proceeds of the endowment would go to volunteer services at the Oklahoma City and Muskogee Veterans Administration Medical Centers, McFall said.

“We want to serve as a bridge to help homeless or needy veterans in our community,” she said. “The monies are earmarked totally for veterans from here on. As the number of veterans returning home grows so does the need grow.”

Red Cross and VFW charitable groups are conscious of what is needed, McFall said, “but sometimes a little extra help is necessary to bridge a gap for the veteran.”

Funds would be used as a monetary bridge between annual stand downs that assist homeless or needy veterans including providing dentists, doctors, help to apply for Social Security and help for the at-risk and homeless.

From air conditioners to refrigerators, the members hope to be able to provide an opportunity for veterans to receive a helping hand.   

In the summer of 2011, one of the hottest on record in Oklahoma, the organization provided an air conditioning unit for a veteran with medical disabilities confined to his apartment.

“Within three days of the request he had a new air conditioning unit,” McFall said.

During that summer DAR members furnished three refrigerators to go with the microwaves purchased earlier for the palliative care unit at the Oklahoma City Veterans Administration Medical Center for the families to use.

“We purchase a lot of clothes including coats and sweats since they are most versatile for patients and outpatients,” McFall said.

The new fund would provide a resource pool from which DAR could draw to respond quickly to similar needs.

“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.”

Requests for assistance are vetted by the chief of voluntary services and a volunteer service assistant at veterans’ hospitals in Oklahoma City and Muskogee, McFall said.

McFall is into the second month of her two-year term has been a volunteer service assistant and 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.

“I think this is something that is timely and very much needed,” said retired Maj. Gen. Rita A. Aragon, Oklahoma secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs. “I am thankful the DAR is taking on this important challenge.”

With $30,000 already raised, the organization is hoping to meet its $150,000 goal as quickly as possible. McFall said needs change from year-to-year.

“At this time we are looking at additional funding for women veterans including clothing, daycare or workforce entry or educational transitioning as well as a quick response time for the younger vets who have different needs,” McFall said, “and we also give assistance to caregiver support groups.”

Individuals can donate clothes to the Veterans Affairs hospitals, she added, and larger sizes always are needed.

Looking toward grants or other forms of assistance from businesses, McFall said the grassroots efforts of the organization’s 2,800 members has included donations and selling items.

“I am willing to meet with businesses or community organizations to explain what DAR is doing and to encourage them to help in the effort,” McFall said. “We would like to get other entities in the community involved.”

A 501c3 organization, all donations are tax deductible and a bonded treasurer can furnish receipts.

To make a donation or to schedule McFall as a speaker email her at PRMcFall@aol.com or call 844-8824.

6 Goals of the Veterans First Fund:

• Raising money as well as awareness for veteran needs that may not be answered through lack of specific services.

• Serving as a monetary bridge between annual stand downs that assist homeless or needy veterans.

• Providing additional funding for women’s resources within the VA facilities. (Clothing or day care for workforce entry or educational transitioning.)

• Providing short-term sponsorship of homeless veterans.

• Assisting caregivers’ support groups.

• Meeting other needs identified by facility professionals.

DAR Since 1890

• 170,000 Members

• 3,000 Chapters in all 50 States

• International Chapters in 13 Countries

• Strong supporter of veterans

• $1.5 million given in last year to veterans

• On-going focus in supporting veterans by Oklahoma Society DAR