It has been my honor and privilege to serve as the Department Commander. The mission of the DAV will always be my main priority; it has been ingrained into my DNA. It has been the members at the chapter level that makes things happen in the community. The membership is why Wisconsin leads the way every year in our Division at Nationals.
This last year has been challenging on all of us, and it was you, the members, that made sure Veterans were not left behind. The buddy check system that was in place was excellent. It is why Wisconsin still leads the way in Division III in National. I have been to 15 chapters meetings before the state fully closed and as chapters opened back up, I have been to 3 meetings. I am always amazed at the comradery of the membership.
I have been a part of a few new firsts during my Commandership, like talking on a Zoom meeting with the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce on hiring disabled Veterans with Assistant National Employment Director Rob Lougee. I was also the representative for the Green Bay Packers’ “give back to Veterans” event, where they gave out the Christmas hams. I was able to be there when Replay Sports Bar presented a $52,000 check to Chapter 3 for the DAV Transportation program.
As a young and new Commander, I have had many mentors; Past National Commander Dick Marbes, Immediate Past Commander Mike Hert, Past Department Commanders KC Johnson, Holly Hoppe, Lenny Shier, John Polk, Tom Weber, John Hoeft, and Kevin Walkowski guiding me through many decisions. I believe that the membership is the power and strength of the DAV, but the past leaders are the best advisors.
During my Commandership, I have seen the membership contributions in all our volunteering programs. Even with Covid-19, the transportation program was still bringing veterans to their appointments. We have recruited over 200 new members even though Covid-19 has halted or slowed things down. The Department of Wisconsin has won the Outstanding Performance in Advocacy (OPA) award for District III for the second year in a row. And finally, Wisconsin is leading Division III for LVAP for 2020-2021. Thank you all for your contributions.
When Immediate Past Commander Hert stepped down as Commander, I moved into the position of Commander, and it has been a fantastic journey. I never thought that when I joined the DAV, I would become the State Commander. I just wanted to do my part in helping Veterans. I have lost friends on both the battlefield and the home front. So, I became active to make sure Veterans no longer were falling through the cracks. Through going to meetings and conventions, I have found a new family in the DAV in Wisconsin, and across the nation has been life changing. The members have given me a new purpose, and I cannot thank you all enough for that.