Palm Coast People: John W. May

John W. May goes by Bill. He flew helicopters during the Vietnam War and to this day is still helping his brothers and sisters in arms.
After retiring from the Army, Bill spent another decade in the civilian aviation world before moving from Wisconsin to Palm Coast in 2001. He found work with the Coast Guard out of Cecil Field in Jacksonville. Bill and his wife had been living in an RV in St. Augustine while building their house in Palm Coast. “We love it here. We’re never leaving. Happy as we can be with Flagler County.”
For the next twenty years, Bill worked real estate, earning a real estate and broker’s associate license. All the time, unaware of, or unwilling to explore, his earned benefits as a veteran. It was a friend of his from the Flagler Sportfishing Club, who was part of the local Disabled American Veterans (DAV) chapter, that suggested Bill come in.
The DAV is an entirely volunteer based organization. In 2021, after seeing all his entitlements as a Vietnam veteran, Bill gave back through volunteering at the chapter office. Each of their positions in the office are election based, and when the commander position was available, Bill applied and won in September 2021.
Under Bill’s command, the DAV is going strong. Being a 501(c)(4), social welfare, they are kept afloat through donations and volunteer hours. The DAV logged more than 1500 volunteer hours in 2023. The more hours they log, the more weight and stronger positions the DAV’s national representatives can lobby Congress on veterans’ behalf.
The two larger programs this DAV provides are transportation and paperwork. There are three vans the DAV co-owns with the VA. Volunteers drivers are vetted; they earn a government driver’s license, are up to date on all immunizations, and must have a clean driving record. They transport the county’s veterans to their VA appointments.
DAV drivers have taken Flagler veterans to VA appointments (or to VA directed civilian doctors) as far as Orlando, Gainesville, and Jacksonville. In 2023, drivers transported 278 patients from their home to their appointments, and back home again. This is an average of 20-30 rides per month, on average. Veterans are invited to call into the office, which is open Mondays through Thursdays. Call even on the days they are closed, leave a message, and someone will contact you soon.
The next toughest thing veterans experience: paperwork. And the DAV ensures you are not alone in filing for VA disability. Under Bill’s command, he has accumulated 11 state certified service officers, all of whom are qualified to fill out the applications. Veterans are invited to come in, speak one on one with this officer, who will take care of the rest. No personal information is kept, in accordance with HIPAA regulations. On average, these officers work through 20 VA disability cases per month.
Every step the volunteers at the DAV take is in the service of the county’s veterans. “It’s rewarding, it’s demanding, it’s hard sometimes, but the satisfaction from helping veterans is reward enough,” Bill says. “If you’re a veteran, of any service, in any era, everyone in here has a mission in life of helping you in any way that we can. We’re all volunteers. We’re doing it because we want to help.”