IDAHO FALLS – Veterans who’ve had a hard time getting around are getting another chance at mobility through the efforts of a fellow veteran.
“I just love everything Frank’s doing for me. He couldn’t do any better,” local Vietnam veteran Steve Goss said.
Frank Smith, a Vietnam Veteran, heads the Veterans Mobility program. This non-profit organization refurbishes used electric wheelchairs. Veterans Mobility is a sub-corporation of the Vietnam Veterans Chapter 972.
The mobility program began 20 months ago when a veteran wanted to donate his electric wheelchair to a fellow veteran. Frank says he was only planning on refurbishing one.
“That one chair will have grown to over 120 by the time this week is over,” Smith says
Smith said donations have come from all over the Gem State and the country. He said refurbished chairs can be shipped to anyplace in the country as well.
“We’ve given chairs in Idaho as far away as Coeur d’Alene, Malad, Boise, Nampa,” Smith said, “We sent one chair to Virginia, one to Wisconsin. They go to veterans, spouses of veterans or children of veterans.”
Goss, an American Falls veteran, says his chair gave him his freedom back.
“I couldn’t get outside and off my porch before, and now I can go almost anywhere I want to. I’m an outdoorsy kind of guy,” Goss says.
He received the 71st chair donated by the mobility program and he says now he goes by a different name.
“I am AKA 71. That’s what all the guys call me now. They don’t call me Steve,” Goss says.
Smith says between the programs multiple warehouses the organization has 150 chairs ready to be repaired.
“(Chairs) are donated, and we get them in various states of repair,” Smith said.
The program is always accepting power chairs in any state, and looking for veterans to help. To learn more go to the local Vietnam Veteran’s webpage.