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Program Providing Wheelchairs For Ventura County Veterans In Need

Effort helps veterans faced with lack of mobility

Bobby Miller, Junior served his country for more than three decades in the Navy. The East Ventura man was a Chief Petty Officer who served on two battleships, and two aircraft carriers.

He retired in 1996, after some medical issues caught up with him.

The 77-year-old man admits it’s now hard for him to walk, to the point that sometimes he doesn’t want to leave home.

But, he just got some help through a little known grass roots program in Ventura County run by the Gold Coast Veterans Foundation, in conjunction with the non-profit Knights of Columbus organization.

For the last decade, they've been supplying wheelchairs free of charge to veterans. In some case for those with insurance, or through the VA, it can take days or weeks for them to get one. The program can deliver them in many cases the same day.

Bob Harris is Executive Director of the Gold Coast Veterans Foundation.

Harris says part of the problem is veterans tend to be proud and independent, and don’t want to admit they could use help.

Miller just got one of the wheelchairs through the program. He says he hopes more veterans step up to get help, like he did. He says its allowing him to get out and do things he wouldn't do a few weeks ago.

Gold Coast Veterans Foundation officials say while hundreds of chairs have been given out over the years, they know for each one that’s distributed there’s many more people out there who still need them. The program is getting an extra boost this week, with the Port of Hueneme donating more than $30,000 to but an additional 110 wheelchairs.

Link to the foundation:

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.