DAV WI Commander Hert testifies before Joint Finance Committee 

STATEMENT OF MICHAEL A. HERT, COMMANDER, DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS (DAV) DEPARTMENT OF WISCONSIN

ACCOMPANIED BY RICHARD E. MARBES, DAV CO-TRANSPORATION MANAGER ON BEHALF OF DAV TRANSPORTATION GRANT BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON JOINT FINANCE, WISCONSIN STATE LEGISLATURE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN – GREEN BAY

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN, APRIL 24, 2019


Good afternoon (morning) Co-Chair Darling, Co-Chair Nygren and other members of the Committee on Joint Finance.

On behalf of DAV Wisconsin, I am honored to present testimony to the Committee on the DAV Transportation Grant. I am accompanied today by Richard Marbes, Co-Transportation Manager who is also a DAV Past National Commander.

DAV is dedicated to a single purpose: empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. Our emphasis is always on Service.

One of our prominent Service Programs is the DAV Transportation Network. We offer free transportation to all veterans who need help getting to and from their scheduled Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical appointments.

Pursuant to Wisconsin State Statute 45.41, DAV in Wisconsin annually receives a $200,000 Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) to help defray expenses with the DAV Transportation Network.

After a thorough evaluation of the future needs of the DAV Transportation Network, we respectfully request you consider increasing the annual transportation grant to $250,000 for the 2019-2021 State Budget.

Since its inception in 1987, the highly successful DAV Transportation Network has transported numerous veterans who live on small fixed incomes and often reside many miles from their VA medical facility. In Wisconsin, we currently have 45 Vans which provide transportation to veterans in over 43 of the 72 Counties in Wisconsin.

Every year, DAV Wisconsin purchases a large number of Vans and donates them to VA medical facilities, which are then used to provide veterans free rides to and from their VA appointments. Last fall we purchased and received eight (8) new vans to supplement the existing fleet. We also recruit volunteer drivers and provide the employees needed to coordinate the Network. These employees are Hospital Service Coordinators (HSCs) who manage the DAV Transportation Network at VA facilities in Milwaukee, Madison, Tomah, Green Bay, Appleton, Superior, and Iron Mountain in Michigan. The HSCs assemble a team of volunteer drivers and coordinate the Vans with hospital transportation requests.

In 2018, DAV Wisconsin volunteer drivers have driven 961,830 miles, donated 83,756 hours and provided free rides to 42,337 veterans. The cost absorbed by the Network is a substantial savings for Federal, State and County governments.

Our evaluation on the future needs of the Transportation Network revealed the following:

• After 150,000 miles, a Van must be replaced. Due to this limitation, we have been forced to replace between 7 and 12 Vans in the past years. DAV has a special relationship with Ford which dates back to Henry Ford. Currently, we are using Ford Transit at an average cost of $35,000 per van. Most years there is a price increase.

• In recent years, our transportation requests have increased. This has placed a heavy demand on our volunteer drivers. Periodically, we honor them with a meal and/or distinguished service certificates. To honor their service and to build esprit de corps, when possible we purchase uniforms (jackets, caps or shirts). This requires additional monies.

• Wisconsin DAV and WDVA have had discussions about expanding the program which we are always willing to consider. Recently two (2) new counties (Dodge and Richland) were added, taxing our capacity. This will require additional funding.

• The HSCs are paid a minimal wage rate. At times, this has led to a retention issue. We are considering a substantial rate increase to give the program more stability.

• Some VA facilities provide computers; others do not. Many of our computers are outdated and need an upgrade to increase efficiency. This will requires additional funds.

• We anticipate an increase of 15% in veterans requiring transportation in the coming year

• This year, we project purchasing seven (7) vans at approximately $35,000 per van to maintain our capacity.

• Also under consideration is hiring three (3) additional part time transportation coordinators to meet existing needs.

Our current budget for our Transportation Network is $330,000. For Fiscal Year 2019-2020 our projection is $400,000. Please consider increasing the DAV Transportation Grant by $50,000 in the 2019-2021 State Budget.

This concludes my testimony. At this time, I or Transportation Manager Marbes would be pleased to respond to any questions Committee Members may have.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *