Tyler Lorich puts vinyl graphics on one of 10 vans Streamline Designs is wrapping the vans in vinyl graphics, including stars and stripes, the Disabled American Veterans logo, an eagle and, of course, an ad for Russ' restaurant at Streamline Designs in North Tonawanda, N.Y. on Thursday Aug. 3, 2017. Restauranteur Russ Salvatore is donating, part a fleet of 10 new passenger vans worth $300,000 to the Veterans Hospital on Monday. The vans will be used to take veterans to and from their appointments at the hospital. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Kevin Elis was waiting in the pharmacy of Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center when he heard four men behind him grumbling about their long ride home.
The former Army paratrooper stepped outside and saw four of the vans used to transport veterans to and from their appointments at the hospital.
“They were just a total disgrace,” he said.
Rusted and with their American flag graphics faded, Elis learned they were used for parts and as backups, but the rest of the fleet was not in much better shape. Many of the Disabled American Veterans organization’s 10 vans ranging from model years 2003 through 2011 had logged over 150,000 miles.
Elis set out to raise $144,000, enough to buy eight vans after the DAV chipped in $112,000. He met with local elected officials, and sent nearly 400 letters soliciting donations.
Donations totaling about $6,000 trickled in.
Then, in early May he met with restaurateur Russell J. Salvatore, hoping for $5,000.
Salvatore, also …
READ MORE ON BUFFALONEWS.COM