|Chuck Schryer, an ex-high-rise window washer stands in front of the van he drives.|
Volunteer drives 250K miles for disabled veterans (Marion, IL) - A retired U.S. Army veteran has spent the past 10 years driving disabled veterans to and from the Marion, Illinois Veterans Affair's hospital. Chuck Schryer served in the Army's 173rd Airborne and three years overseas during the Vietnam War. The retired high-rise window washer spends his free time serving disabled veterans like himself.
Schryer said he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and receives care from the Marion VA. He said he wanted to make sure other veterans like himself can receive care. “It’s been hectic at times,” Schryer said.
Schryer helped found Chapter 80 of the non-profit group Disabled American Veterans Charity, that serves veterans in the 29 counties in southern Illinois, southwest Indiana, and western Kentucky. Chapter 80 started by fundraising for one van and has grown to own and operate 11 vans. “For the veterans. I figure if we don’t take care of one another, no one else will take care of us,” Schryer said.
The DAV brings 125 veterans to and from the Marion VA each month. Schryer has driven more than 250,000 miles over the past 10 years. “You hear a lot of stories from the vets when you’re in there… It’s an honor to do,” Schryer said.
The DAV serving the Marion VA is in need of volunteers. Anyone with a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance can volunteer. If you’re interested you can call the Marion VA Hospital at 618-997-5311 and ask for volunteer services.
Time to forgive — Fifty years after the start of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and the rise of the antiwar movement that in part made the return home for soldiers less than welcoming, it is time to move on, said Chuck Schryer. “We both need to forget and forgive, the veterans and the people,” Schryer said. “There were a lot of harsh feelings when the Vietnam vet came home. He didn’t help the situation. We were called the bad boys, and we were the bad boys.
“It’s time to forgive.” Schryer, of Flora, served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970. He made his remarks at a Marion VA Medical Center event to honor veterans of the tumultuous era. The Defense Department’s Vietnam War Commemoration was set by a presidential proclamation on May 28, 2012, establishing a 13-year program to remember the veterans. “While no words will ever be fully worthy of their service, nor any honor truly befitting their sacrifice, let us remember that it is never too late to pay tribute to the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage and valor,” President Barack Obama wrote at the time.
According to VA information, there are more than 7 million living Vietnam veterans and 9 million families of those who served. Schryer also gave his thanks to the Marion VA, but he has been doing that for 10 years. In May, he will be recognized by the Illinois chapter of the Daugthers of the American Revolution for his volunteer service to the Medical Center, donating 150,000 hours of his time, the most at the VA.
Among his service, Schryer drives veterans across the region to and from the VA for the Disabled American Veterans charity, logging 250,000 miles. He put in a plug for the DAV, saying more drivers are needed. “The VA in Marion is probably one of the best there is,” he said.