One Team, One Fight

Matt Kempainen
State Commander

It is an honor to pen this first article as the new DAV Commander for the Department of Wisconsin. My name is Matt Kempainen and I have served at both the Chapter and the Department level. At the Department level I served as the Senior Vice Commander, Junior Vice Commander and Judge Advocate. I believe this training helped prepare me for my current role. 

Our previous Commander, Mike Hert, served with honor and distinction for the last two years. As we are all aware, the 2020 DAV State Convention was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of holding office for another year, Commander Hert unselfishly resigned, thus allowing others to move up.

On June 15, 2020, I was quite pleased when Past National Commander Richard “Dick” Marbes swore me into the office of Commander and handed me the Department gavel. A new era of leadership began. 

When you review the roster of Past Department Commanders who have served through the years, it is quite intimidating. My promise to you is that I will give 110% of my efforts when it comes to serving our veterans. I ensure you that veterans will be treated with respect and dignity.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said “A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.” As we are in the midst of our Centennial year, I cannot help but concur with our 26 th President. Our male and female veterans who have placed themselves in harm’s way, out of love for our nation, cannot be forgotten or cast to the wayside.

My focus for the upcoming year is based upon the triad of C.E.U. This stands for Compassion , Empowerment and Unity . During the coming days, I plan to breakdown each component with in-depth analysis. However for the time being, I’ll provide a quick broad brush of the concept:

Compassion – Feelings that arise when we witness the pain and suffering of others. For many of us that is why we are engaged volunteers in the Disabled American Veterans. Whether that is driving a transportation van and getting our fellow veterans to their VA medical appointments or hosting a fundraiser that will provide aid for those veterans in need.

Empowerment – Is the process of becoming more confident and stronger. Reflecting upon your military service, the more time you spent on drill and ceremony, the more proficient you were on the Parade ground. The same mindset occurs within our Chapters and Departments. The better trained and more comfortable we become with our roles; greater is the proficiency we are able to serve our fellow veterans.

Unity – The state of being united or joined as a whole. There is always a challenge within any organization that we get stuck in our “silos” and become wary of the other levels within the organization. I want to foster a “One Team, One Fight” atmosphere within the Department. 

We are at a critical time in our nation’s history. Non-veterans far outnumber veterans in the population. We don’t have the privilege of being able to squabble within our ranks. If we battle each other, we will lose the war. The priority will be helping our fellow veterans. It is our obligation to be united and move forward to ensure that our promises to the men and women who served are fulfilled.

In closing, I look forward to working with everybody in the course of the year. We will be “One Team, One Fight.”

Matt Kempainen, DAV Wisconsin Stat Commander

Click here to review briefing remarks from State Commander Kempainen.