July 31, 2015
Region 8 and International Union Present Van to VA Medical Center
On June 25th, Region 8 National Veterans Advisory Committee (NVAC) representative, Mark Peterson traveled to the Durham, North Carolina Veterans Medical Center with one important mission in mind... to let the veterans know their services and sacrifices are not only remembered but also appreciated by the UAW. Peterson turned over the keys to a new heavy duty UAW-GM built full size handicap accessible passenger van. All of the events transpired when Mark got the call from Region 8 Director Ray Curry that he had an assignment for him; he needed Mark to represent the Director and Region 8. I was humbled to have the opportunity and was pumped with pride to do so”.
“Riding down to Durham the night before, the country side, the evening air, I had time to think about the many things I've been privileged to be involved with because of the UAW. Of the many things we do our local veterans committees have Deputy and Assistant Deputy Representatives that sit on the Veterans Affairs Volunteer Services (VAVS) Board at the VA Medical Center in Salem, VA. There we also host quarterly events for the patients. Going to Durham, NC was especially sweet as I was born in Greensboro and served in the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg. Director Curry is an Army Veteran from the Tar Heel state as well and this presentation was a big deal and very important to him.”
“Once on the grounds of the medical center, I met UAW NVAC Coordinator Doug Taylor, Jay Combs from the UAW PR Department, and UAW-GM Communications Manager Ken Been. We had time to discuss the game plan, meet the Director of the Medical Center, and were greeted with enthusiasm by several dozen veteran patients; half of which were bound to their wheel chairs”.
“After the greetings, I gathered my thoughts as I was on a mission and had a short speech to give. I walked upon a sign near the presentation area that had a powerful and meaningful statement; The Price of Freedom is Visible Here.”
UAW NVAC Coordinator, Doug Taylor made comments that the van was built in the USA, in Wentzville, Missouri by UAW members from Local 2250. Taylor also commented on the UAW's commitment to veterans through the International Veterans Department and the devotion UAW Vice President and Director of the GM Department Cindy Estrada held with veterans. Doug stated, “Within our ranks, our leadership teams with military and veteran pride; even our UAW President, Dennis Williams is a United States Marine and Vietnam Veteran”.
“My comments were a little background information on myself, Director Curry, our ties to North Carolina, and how especially pleased we were to see this van go to such a prestigious facility in our home state. I informed the veterans and staff on how involved the UAW is with volunteering at the different medical centers across the nation and that in many areas we hold active seats on many different boards in the Veterans Affairs Programs. “The UAW loves and respects the military and veterans and considers them national treasures; they have earned well more than we could ever repay.”
Ken Been explained to the audience that GM and Chevrolet were still as American as hot dogs and mama's apple pie in 2015 as they were back in the 70's. Ken gave credit and applauded the patriotism and efforts of GM Vice President Cathy Clegg for being a large factor in making this presentation happening.
Accepting the keys on behalf of the medical center and all those who will benefit from the van, VA Medical Center Director, Ms. DeAnne Seekins said, “This van will help bring the Vets back to the community; and that is so vital to their health. It helps them fulfill a very human need – to have a place to go and a way of getting there.”
“It will be used by our Medical Foster Care program, our Blinded Veterans Rehabilitation services, our Women Veterans Leisure Group, and most importantly for our Hospice patients who may have a special request for an outing, a favorite meal, or to visit a favorite destination. We are indeed grateful to the UAW, GM, and Chevrolet.”
As a wheel chaired veteran cut the ribbon, the group clapped, whistled and shouted out “Oorah’s!!” There was a real magic joy in the air; what a wonderful and fulfilling day and I was at my proudest to be a UAW member. Thank you Director Curry for giving me this opportunity... mission accomplished!!!
Mark Peterson – Local 2069
UAW Region 8 National Veterans Advisory Council (NVAC) Representative