10/11/09 — Disabled American Veterans sell peanuts to raise funds

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Disabled American Veterans sell peanuts to raise funds

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 11, 2009 2:00 AM

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Retired soldiers Bart Gool, left, and Warren Rook man the Donald H. Kirkman Chapter 45 of the Disabled American Veterans' peanut stand at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair Thursday. Money raised each year at the fair helps the organization accomplish its mission -- to get top-notch medical care to America's former fighting force.

Bart Gool was working at Lowe's three years ago when a member of the Donald H. Kirkman Chapter 45 of the Disabled American Veterans approached him.

"He said, 'I understand you're a veteran and that you might be disabled,'" Gool said.

And he invited the retired soldier to the organization's headquarters -- a simple house on Patrick Street -- to learn about all the services the group provides, from helping veterans file disability claims to driving them to doctor's appointments.

"They stunned me," Gool said. "I had no idea what the DAV was capable of."

So he was proud to be among more than a dozen members of the organization who sold peanuts and soft drinks at this year's edition of the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair to raise money for the group.

"We're totally a charity," he said. "Self-supporting."

Warren Rook was with him in that concession stand Thursday night.

He, too, retired from the Army -- and thrives off the fellowship found inside that house off Patrick Street.

"It's somewhere to meet fellow veterans," he said. "It's somewhere where what he knows, I know part of, and what I know, he knows part of."

Wednesday mornings at the DAV are particularly special -- thanks to breakfast provided by the group's women's auxiliary.

"We eat breakfast (in the morning) but they will be there until noon telling war stories -- you know, shooting the breeze," Gool said.

The money raised through sales at the fair help pay for the headquarters' utility bills and servicing the DAV vans used to transport veterans to VA hospitals across the state.

But it is also used to "help veterans if they run into a jam."

For those reasons, both Rook and Gool are proud that they logged several days at the fairgrounds this year.

And they got a "reward" of sorts, as many passersby -- including the new generation of American veterans -- stopped just to say "thanks."

"They are just back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Some stopped by just to say, 'Hey,'" Gool said. "Others knew who we are and what we do so they came by to drop off a donation."