DAV 2020 Mid-Winter Conference is upon us and your Department of Wisconsin Leadership team will be walking the hallowed floors of the U.S. Capitol meeting with our federally elected officials. This is truly a “rubber meets the road” type of event. Things will kick off with a legislative update by our DAV Washington Legislative Staff. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain first- hand knowledge regarding the status of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Our Washington DAV Team is led by Randy Reese, Executive Director of DAV’s National Service and Legislative Headquarters. He is astute and insightful regarding congressional matters. This will also provide us an opportunity to review DAV’s Critical Policy Goals for 2020 and if needed, questions can be answered by Staff.
A special highlight for me is the presentation by our National Commander at a Joint Session of the House and Senate Veterans Affair Committees. There are many Veterans groups across the land but only the elite are chartered by Congress. As you are aware, DAV is a congressionally chartered Veterans Service Organization (VSO) that annually provides a presentation to Congress. It’s truly an impressive moment, when you witness a sea of DAV service caps from the Chapter, Department and National level fill the congressional hearing room. The testimony from the National Commander is always riveting and inspirational. Committee members always ask insightful, courtesy and respectful questions of our National Commander and the DAV Washington team.
With 2020 being our Centennial year, we have a long track record of representing America’s Disabled Veterans.
Upon completion of the DAV Washington Legislative Staff updates, it’s akin to bee’s leaving the hive, we then venture forward to Capitol Hill to visit the Wisconsin Congressional members’ Offices. Through the good efforts of Al Labelle, Wisconsin Benefit Protection Team Leader (BPTL), various appointments are scheduled directly with legislators.
We also make a Legislative Presentation directly with their Staffs on Tuesday morning prior to the National Commander’s testimony. We provide them with DAV’s Critical Policy Goals for 2020. The Critical Goals are:
- Toxic Exposure
- Survivor Benefits
- Implementation of the VA MISSION Act
- Veterans Mental Health Care
- Women Veterans
A member of Team DAV Wisconsin will highlight a Policy Goal. An example as an Iraq-Afghanistan Veteran, I’ll discuss legislation regarding the hot topic of burn pits or toxic exposure.
Due to the tireless advocacy efforts of BPTL Al Labelle and our Badger State DAV Members, in a historical first, the Department of Wisconsin is the winner of the 2018-2019 Outstanding Performance in Advocacy (OPA) Award for Division III and Al Labelle is recognized as the top-performing BPTL. This Award will be presented at the Conference in front of our peers during the Sunday afternoon session on Benefits Protection and Legislation.
DAV Wisconsin is quite proud of how we advocate for veterans, whether it is via our Transportation Network, assisting with benefit claims, job fairs, disaster relief and so forth. At Mid-Winter Conference Legislative advocacy is front and center. Together, we make a difference in the lives of veterans by ensuring they lead high quality lives of dignity and respect. “Together Forward!”