Vets get a van |

Vets get a van

Rick Chandler

South Lake Tahoe veterans have a brand-new ride to Veterans Hospital in Reno, thanks to the approval of a grant to purchase a new van.

“It’s something we’ve needed for a long time,” said Bill Kerr, a Marine Corps veteran and official with the Commission on Veterans Affairs. “The van will be used as transportation for disabled veterans and caregivers to get to the hospital in Reno three times per week. We’re very thankful for this donation.”

The grant, which will amount to approximately $19,000, was funded by the Disabled American Veterans and AmVets, two national veterans organizations.

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has also thrown its support to the Commission on Veterans Affairs in its efforts to extend military commissary and PX privileges to a broader range of veterans.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting in Placerville, Solaro introduced a resolution supporting a congressional budget resolution on Army Regulation Section 36-3026 (I).

Currently, only those veterans rated 100 percent service-connected disabled are allowed to shop at military commissary and PX locations in the U.S. But the El Dorado County Commission on Veterans Affairs is among those leading the effort to roll back the regulation to include veterans who are 50 percent service-connected disabled or more.

“That was the way the law was when it was originally written,” Kerr said. “But in 1998, they changed the law as part of an apparent effort to phase out military bases altogether. This left out 240,000 veterans.”

A change in the regulation would also allow disabled vets to travel free of charge in military aircraft.

“None of this would cost the taxpayers any money,” Kerr said. “Military planes have empty seats as a matter of course. And as far as the PX goes, it would generate more revenue if more people were allowed to shop there.”

The two closest military bases to South Lake Tahoe are the Fallon Air Naval Station, and McClellan Air Force Base in Rancho Cordova.

Kerr and other South Lake Tahoe veterans plan to lobby Congress on the issue during a trip to Washington, D.C. on Aug. 18-20.

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