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Nassau firefighters donate van to disabled veterans

Firefighters from across Nassau County gather during a

Firefighters from across Nassau County gather during a ceremony to present a new passenger van to a disabled veterans organization at the Firefighters Museum in Garden City on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A nonprofit run by Nassau County firefighters presented a new van to a disabled veterans organization at a ceremony in Garden City Saturday morning.

Joseph O’Grady, chairman of Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior, said his group was “thrilled to be able to support” the veterans with the donation.

“The sacrifices they make, the sacrifices their family and children make, are lifelong,” said O’Grady, a former chief of the Floral Park Fire Department.

As about 50 firefighters from about 15 departments watched at the Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center Saturday morning, O’Grady and other members of the group presented the 12-seat Ford Transit to Disabled American Veterans, a nationwide nonprofit headquartered in Cold Spring, Kentucky.

Steve Grogan, the vice chairman of the Wounded Warrior group, said firefighters from 35 Nassau departments raised money for the van. The Nassau nonprofit collects tens of thousands of dollars every year to support disabled veterans, he said. The nonprofit’s officials declined to say how much the van cost.

The van will join a fleet of more than 25 vehicles deployed by the veterans group to transport some of Long Island’s roughly 140,000 former service members to and from appointments at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The vans, which are driven by about 100 local volunteers, take hundreds of veterans with “travel hardships” to appointments at the hospital every week, said Joe Sledge, a senior leadership assistant at the Northport facility.

Sledge praised the firefighters for their donation.

“We can’t do it alone,” he said, adding that the transportation provided by the veterans group was integral to the medical center’s mission.

But the vans do more than just help local veterans see their doctors, according to Roosevelt Morring, 48, a disabled veteran from Garden City who relies on the vans to get to and from the hospital.

Morring, who served 12 years in the Army, National Guard and Army Reserve, said the rides also give vets a chance to forge relationships with one another that become crucial sources of support.

“As a veteran it’s all about your support system. That’s what keeps you going each and every day,” he said. “We don’t do it by ourselves.”


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