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SILOAM SPRINGS -- Walking with a cane his grandchildren named "Pablo," Ronald Evans has been visiting with veterans he meets at stores in Siloam Springs and the surrounding area.

One of the questions he always asks veterans is if they have a service-connected disability. Many with varying degrees of disability may not realize they're eligible for disability compensation from the government, Evans said.

That's why he's hoping to corral 25 disabled veterans to restart the Siloam Springs chapter of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization. He wants to help more veterans with gaining assistance than he currently can through one-on-one meetings at Walmart or Lowe's.

"It's supposed to be 50 members, but the state and national offices have waived that to 25, so we can hopefully get this going again," Evans said. "It can be zero percent (disability) all the way up to 100 percent. It doesn't matter because those zero percents sometimes grow, but I need 25 brand-new members to join and I'm getting close."

Evans has worked with the state office in Little Rock to bring a mobile van to Siloam Springs that will be set up in the Walmart parking lot from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Officers there help veterans with new or established claims while also helping recruit others to join the DAV.

Siloam Springs had a DAV chapter "seven or eight years ago," Evans said, but was dissolved for a variety of reasons he said came down to a "power struggle." He's a member of the DAV in Springdale, so he's been having to drive to monthly meetings along with other disabled veterans from the Siloam Springs area. Because of differing disabilities, driving long distances is not always ideal.

Evans said the DAV in Siloam Springs would serve as another advocate for disabled veterans and work in concert with the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, two groups of which he's also a member.

"We have a lot of disabled veterans in the area that need help," Evans said. "They deserve certain rights from the (Veterans Affairs), from the government, and sometimes they need more than one person and more than one organization to fight for them.

"When you lose a charter, you're losing strength. There's always strength in numbers and that's what helps people establish their claims, or if they're having problems with any part of their existing claims."

If he's successful, Evans said the next step will be informing those other organizations in Siloam Springs they now have a charter, as well as establishing days for meetings and who will serve as officers.

"I'm not doing this because I want to be president or anything like that," Evans said. "This is just something that is near and dear to my heart because I want to help other veterans like myself."

Evans needs the cane because he has back and knee issues he developed while serving in the Navy from 1968-92.

Contact Evans at 479-427-6235 for more information or to get signed up.

General News on 11/29/2017

Print Headline: Veteran hopes to reestablish local DAV chapter

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