DAV has new home
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 7, 2013 10:33 PM
Retired soldier George Tootle fills out a DAV membership form.\n
After nearly a decade searching for another location, the DAV, or Disabled American Veterans, officially have a new home.
On Saturday, the organization celebrated its grand opening at 212 E. Mulberry St.
Starting the day with a 50-mile Poker Run in memory of those who served in the military, a cookout and ribbon cutting ceremony followed.
Past commander Theodore Ivey, who served in the Air Force and affiliated with DAV for 30 years, said it was like a dream come true.
"About eight, nine years ago, we started looking for a new building and it was pure luck that we got this one," he said. "The good Lord was looking out for us."
Greg Keesee, a former Marine, has been commander for the past six years. He said the last 10 months have been spent watching things come to fruition, starting with a conversation with Mayor Al King and a visit to the city council before making the connection with the family that owned the Mulberry Street property and ultimately donated it to the DAV.
With deed in hand, the renovations began. Two walls were knocked down and the kitchen and dining room were expanded, Keesee said.
Ivey did the cabinet work in the kitchen.
"I did it with scrap materials -- $18,000 worth of cabinetry work in there, I did it for about $400," he said.
The DAV is reliant on volunteers and donations. The main services are to assist veterans with claims that go to the VA, or Veterans Administration, and to provide transportation for those needing to get to the VA hospitals in Fayetteville and Durham.
The new location features a commander's office, transportation office, meeting room and three claims offices.
"We actually have a waiting area for veterans to come in and get claim work done," he said. "We now have a total of four offices that allow for more privacy helping veterans with claims."
Keesee said the move from its former location on Patrick Street has some definite advantages.
"We finally have more parking. The police are riding by now. There's lights. Now maybe the veterans will come out," he said.
With one dream accomplished, Keesee says it's on to the next one, getting more veterans aware of DAV and its efforts.
"(My goal) is to have that room packed, veterans who want to actually come in and to work together," he said.
Office hours at Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. To find out more about the services or to volunteer, call 919-736-3015; for transportation services, call 919-736-3114. The website is www.dav membersportal.org.