“Each of you bears upon his body the permanent honorable scars of dangerous service: service rendered in order that our great nation might continue to live according to the expressed will of its own citizens” Dwight D. Eisenhower
The above quote by Dwight Eisenhower, United States President and Supreme Allied Commander World War Two, is inscribed upon the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington D.C. These powerful words by President Eisenhower regarding the Nation’s Disabled American Veterans, remain relevant today. As we now enter the year 2020, we honor and celebrate the 100-year anniversary for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), we must never lose sight of our mission. That mission is to empower Veterans to lead high-quality lives with dignity and respect.
Our strength is the recognition of the incredible and selfless service of our Veterans. I assume over the last 100 years there were a few organizations that claimed to be of service to America’s Veterans yet eventually fell to the wayside. DAV it should be noted maintained a laser focus on the Veterans community and for decade after decade, stood alongside America’s warriors ensuring our Nations promise was kept to them and their families.
In the State of Wisconsin, DAV continues to live out the mission put forward by our forebears 100 years ago. For the reader, I would like to share some superb examples:
- At the upcoming February 2020 DAV Mid-Winter Conference held in Washington D.C. the Department of Wisconsin is the winner of the Outstanding Performance in Advocacy (OPA) Award for Division III and our very own Al Labelle, will be recognized as the top-performing Benefits Protection Team Leader (BPTL).
- The Department of Wisconsin is to receive back to back Division III, Local Veterans Assistance Program (LVAP) Awards at the 2020 National Convention in Dallas Texas. In the last calendar year, our members provided 78,692 hours of service to Badger State Veterans. Through the tenacity and vision of Greg Palo, Second Junior Vice Commander, he brought us in to new territory with receiving two years straight the Division III LVAP award. This is an incredible testimony to the dedication, fortitude and compassion of our Wisconsin DAV members and Auxiliary.
- Our DAV Transportation Network ensures that Veterans are able to attend their medical appointments at VA facilities. Under the leadership of Transportation Coordinators, Richard “Dick” Marbes and Patty Davis, they ensure the wheels of the transportation vans keep rolling! We have 43 vans in our fleet. In 2018 alone, we transported 37,663 Veterans to their appointments while traveling 1,040,718 miles across the scenic State of Wisconsin. Again, it’s that commitment to safeguard Veterans being able to lead lives of dignity and respect.
- Our membership continues to thrive throughout our Chapters. Under the dynamic leadership of Matt Kempainen, Senior Vice Commander, we have 231 brand new members within our ranks and the membership year is far from over. Veterans realize the impact that DAV has from a personal, legislative and community perspective.
- Our Chapters have identified members that have gone through intense Chapter Service Officer (CSO) training provided by Brian Wilson, National Service Officer (NSO) Supervisor from the Milwaukee office. These CSOs are able to start initial paperwork for a claim and then connect the Veteran with the NSO team. In the last year over 200 claims have been started with the assistance of CSOs that are voluntarily working the field. Another great example of commitment to the DAV mission.
In closing, I’m pumped and excited as we enter the year 2020. As DAV members this is a time of reflection, celebration and commitment. As we pledge ourselves to be of service to our fellow Veterans. Remember “Together Forward”! God Bless to All.