By K.B. Sherman, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – “The people who donate to disabled vets are the real heroes,” said Wayne Stanley, commander of the Salvatore Padula Chapter 82 of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Located in the Marlborough Town Hall, the chapter also serves veterans in Sudbury and Hudson.
Stanley is an Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm, NATO's response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait. Formed in 1920 by U.S. Army Capt. Robert Marx, a veteran of World War I, the DAV organization was a response to the high number of injured and maimed veterans returning to the United States after the war. Airplanes, poison gas, and the machine gun – all new weapons first used in that war – created millions of disabled veterans that overwhelmed the country's limited ability to care for them. Today, DAV national service officers and transition service officers, themselves disabled vets, provide money and free services to help injured vets receive earned benefits.
Every year Marlborough's Chapter 82 has collected $8,000 to $9,000, which it distributes to needy injured vets and widows. The chapter also sponsors a medical oncology unit in Boston, a veterans” shelter in Worcester, a soldiers” home, and a local fishing derby. At Christmas they distribute several thousand dollars to needy veterans and widows. They are also involved in comforting wounded veterans in the hospital.
“Our “Sweats for Vets” has been an ongoing success, and we plan to expand that effort,” explained Bob Paige, the chapter's senior vice-commander.
The effort involves purchasing sweatshirts and hoodies with the New England Patriot's logo that are then sold to raise money.
“We act as the middle-man,” Paige said. “We collect donations and turn that into aid we give the vets. We hope to supply 500 sweats this year.”
People may have noticed volunteers at local supermarkets giving small paper roses to those who donate to the DAV organizations.
DAV is one of the few veterans” organizations authorized to collect for veterans, and Stanley warns about bogus groups that allegedly collect money for vets but keep most or all of it for themselves. DAV gives 93.1 percent of all it collects to vets.
“We see kids putting nickels and dimes into the collection boxes,” Paige said. “That's great and shows we are getting the message out.”
The Marlborough Chapter of the DAV can be reached at 508-485-8343. It meets the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m.