WARNER ROBINS -- The Disabled American Veterans Chapter 33 is back in business, thanks to the kindness of the community, the agency’s commander said Wednesday.
A break-in sometime between Sept. 19 and Sept. 21 temporarily shut down the nonprofit at 1343 Radio Loop Road when the agency’s two computers were stolen, said Rick Newman, the chapter’s commander.
The theft of the computers was significant because the primary purpose of the chapter is to help disabled veterans file medical claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and all of that is done by computer.
Robins Federal Credit Union came to the rescue by purchasing two new computers, Newman said.
“It’s really humbling when people come up and say, ‘I want to get you back up to speed for all you do for the community,’” Newman said.
The chapter operates solely on donations and with a volunteer staff of five people from noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Although files were stolen in the break-in, no personal information of veterans is kept on file, Newman said. Mostly what was stolen were blank forms and chapter meeting minutes, he said.
The chapter also provides soft drinks and water for veterans when they come in. Also, meal cards to fast-food restaurants and clothing are given to homeless veterans, Newman said. About 8 to 10 cases of soda were stolen in the break-in.
Donations are coming in to help the chapter get back on its feet.
A woman from Byron left a case of soft drinks on the front porch of the agency’s double-wide mobile home. Another person put two cases of soft drinks in Newman’s pickup.
“That makes a difference when the vets come to visit us. They have something to drink,” Newman said.
Also, Warner Robins Supply built a porch outside the back door at no cost to the agency, and Wesco Security Systems installed an alarm system for free, Newman said. The agency pays for the monthly alarm service.
“Most of the stuff was replaced,” Newman said. “We’re just about back up to speed.”
The only things that still needs replacing are the safe and about $300 in stolen petty cash. The small cash fund was used to replenish the drinks and print cartridges, Newman said.
“We just appreciate the community coming together and helping us,” Newman said.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559, or find her on Twitter@becpurser.