The wheelchairs used by volunteers and staff to transport patients around the Togus Veterans Affairs Medical center in Augusta, Maine, were heavy, outdated, and cumbersome.

As a part of a larger statewide effort, American Legion Auxiliary Maine Unit 81 decided to purchase two new Stryker Prime TC Transport Chairs for the medical center. Knowing each chair would cost over $2,800, unit members knew they needed to look for funding to help with this gift.

That’s when Maine Unit 81 Secretary Jeri Greenwell decided to apply for an ALA Foundation Veteran Projects Fund grant to help pay for the chairs. In July, the unit was awarded $4,503 from the ALA Foundation, and along with the additional money raised by the unit, they were able to surpass their goal.

In total, the Togus VA Medical Center was gifted eight Stryker Prime TC Transport Chairs. These state-of-the-art chairs enhance both patient and volunteers’ experiences.

“We have redcoat ambassador volunteers who greet and help get patients from place to place, and our facility is very spread out,” said Melissa Cowing, Voluntary Services staff member at the facility.

Before the chairs were put into rotation at the hospital, Cowing had a volunteer test them out. After transporting a patient across the hospital, the volunteer was amazed by how easy the chair was to push. The patient’s husband was also impressed. His wife’s feet had been bothering her, and the chair gave her the support she needed.

These chairs are easy to steer, have the ability to store oxygen tanks upright, and can be easily stacked together, which can save space while stored. At the Togus VAMC, they will be used by more than 11,000 patients the center serves each month.

“These chairs will literally lighten the load for our volunteers as they push veterans around the facility, and their multi-functionality will allow veterans with varying physical abilities to easily transition on and off the chair,” Greenwell said. “Thank you for everything you do for our veterans!”

Support veterans in your town by applying for an ALA Foundation grant, or by making a gift to the ALA Foundation Veteran Projects Fund.