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The Disabled American Veterans (DAV), founded in 1920, is an organization for American disabled veterans. It currently has about 1.2 million members, all veterans of the armed forces and disabled in the line of duty during a time of war. This non-profit organization’s stated mission is to build better lives for disabled veterans and their families.

The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.

Contents

Background

The DAV provides free assistance to veterans in obtaining benefits and services earned through their military service. It is fully funded through its membership dues and public contributions. It is nonpartisan, having no political action committees and neither endorsing nor opposing candidates for political office.

The DAV was formed in 1920 as the United States faced the painful effects of World War I. DAV has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings, adapting along the way to meet the changing needs of disabled veterans. As a new generation of wartime disabled veterans returns from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, the DAV has been exceptionally active in its direct service to veterans and their families, as well as in advocating for legislation to ensure all veterans are cared for well into the future.

Through a wide network of state-level Departments and local Chapters, DAV extends its mission of hope to communities where disabled veterans and their families live. Its leadership is organized to provide a structure through which these veterans can show their compassion for their fellow veterans.

The National Voluntary Service Program operates an extensive network of programs through which veterans and concerned citizens provide services for their disabled veterans. This includes the Transportation Network, which provides veterans with rides to and from Veterans Affairs medical facilities for treatment, and the Voluntary Service Program, which facilitates volunteers at VA hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes through the VA Voluntary Service Program.

The DAV continually fills openings on its professional and management staff with veterans disabled during recent armed conflicts.

Structure

The structure of the DAV is designed to vest control of the organization in its membership and to ensure the greatest degree of operational efficiency possible in the delivery of services to disabled veterans and their families. The National Organization funds and operates programs that serve veterans throughout the United States and its territories and possessions. Fifty-two DAV state Departments and nearly two thousand Chapters augment the service programs of the National Organization on a local level and, in addition, provide the essential framework for the fraternal activities of DAV’s members.

DAV’s national programs are administered by its professional staff under the leadership of National Adjutant Arthur H. Wilson, who is himself a disabled veteran of the Vietnam War. Mr. Wilson is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Organization. Mr. Wilson also serves as Secretary of DAV’s seven-member Board of Directors. The Board is responsible for providing oversight and assessment of DAV’s operations and staff. In addition, the Board is responsible for approval of the annual budget, as well as for the responsible management and investment of all of the organization’s assets.

Each and every member of DAV’s Board of Directors is a DAV member. None of the six people who serve on the Board in addition to the National Adjutant is compensated for that service. Two of the six members serve by virtue of their election to national office by DAV’s membership; the other four are chosen by the National Executive Committee from its ranks.

The fraternal activities of DAV are an essential part of its mission of service to disabled veterans. The National Commander, the official spokesperson of DAV, is elected each year by DAV’s membership at its National Convention. The National Commander chairs the National Executive Committee, the body that coordinates the fraternal activities of DAV. In addition to the National Commander, the National Executive Committee includes five Vice-Commanders and twenty-one district representatives. All of these persons are elected at the National Convention. The immediate Past National Commander also serves on the Committee, which receives support and guidance from the National Judge Advocate and the National Chaplain. These positions are also filled by election of the membership at the National Convention.

Service

The DAV’s largest endeavor is its National Service Program. In 88 offices, a corps of 260 National Service Officers (NSOs) represents veterans with claims for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. This free service is available to all veterans with no obligation.

The NSOs are themselves wartime service-connected disabled veterans thoroughly trained in veterans benefits law and the medical aspects of disability evaluation. NSOs assemble evidence needed to support claims for benefits, building their cases and preparing claim forms and briefs. They also present claims before government agencies, boards and appellate bodies.

DAV has undertaken two additional initiatives to enhance and expand benefits counseling and claims representation services to veterans.

For benefits counseling and assistance to separating service members in filing initial claims, the DAV has hired and specially trained Transition Service Officers who provide these services at military separation centers, under the direct supervision of DAV National Service Officers.

By taking its service offices on the road to rural America, inner-cities and disaster areas, the DAV Mobile Service Office program assists veterans where they live, which increases accessibility to the benefits the government provides veterans. The DAV has 10 of these specially equipped mobile offices on tour to make stops in communities all across the country.

DAV is committed to building better lives for disabled veterans and their families. From helping veterans obtain earned benefits and transportation to hospitals to providing relief after natural disasters and educating the public about disabled veterans’ issues, DAV offers a wide variety of programs and initiatives to serve the ones who served. DAV also provides disaster relief to disabled veterans affected by catastrophes such as tornadoes, hurricanes or floods.

Legislation

The DAV National Legislative Program’s aim is to ensure disabled veterans are not forgotten by lawmakers.

As a nonpartisan organization, it is the DAV’s policy to seek only reasonable, responsible legislation to assist disabled veterans and their families. Concentrating on issues such as disability compensation, pension, medical care, job and training programs, burial benefits, education and survivors’ benefits, the DAV’s legislative goals are set by the organization’s members in a process that begins in local DAV Chapters.

These legislative goals guide the organization’s advocacy for disabled veterans—to help them gain and keep the benefits they have earned by spilled blood, prolonged illness and lost mental well-being as a result of military service.

The annual Legislative Programs of the DAV consist of those measures that have been approved in resolution form each year by the delegates to the organization’s annual National Conventions.

Volunteer Service

The Disabled American Veterans’ Voluntary Service Program provides numerous opportunities for men and women of all ages to help make a difference in the lives of disabled veterans.

Thousands of disabled veterans face real needs government programs can’t meet. That’s where DAV volunteers come in to bridge the gap.

Through the program, DAV volunteers team up with the Veterans Affairs health care team to provide special services for sick and disabled veterans. Some volunteers bring special skills and knowledge, but the only necessary ability is the desire to help those in need.

The DAV Transportation Network and the VA Voluntary Service Program fill many needs for disabled veterans. Whether helping veterans get to and from medical appointments, or spending time with hospitalized veterans, the services of volunteers are critical to America’s wounded warriors.

Membership

DAV Eligibility Any man or woman, who was wounded, gassed, injured or disabled in the line of duty during time of war, while in the service of either the military or naval forces of the United States of America, and who has not been dishonorably discharged or separated from such service, or who may still be in active service in the armed forces of the United States of America is eligible for membership in the Disabled American Veterans. Others who are disabled while serving with any of the armed forces of any nations associated with the United States of America as allies during any of its war periods, who are American citizens and who are honorably discharged, are also eligible.

DAV Dues Structure Life membership is permanent. Life membership dues are as follows and may be paid in interest-free installments following a minimum $40 down payment. 80 or older: Free 71-79: $140 61-70: $180 41-60: $230 40 or younger: $250

DAV National Service Foundation

The DAV National Service Foundation develops financial resources for the assistance, aid, maintenance, care, support and rehabilitation of disabled veterans and their dependents, either directly or by contributions to the service programs of the Disabled American Veterans National Organization or its Departments and Chapters.

DAV Auxiliary

The Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary (DAVA) was founded in 1922 by women who saw a need for assistance to the families, widows and orphans of disabled veterans, as well as the disabled veterans themselves. With membership open to family members of disabled or deceased veterans, 2,000 DAV Auxiliary units continue to serve disabled veterans, with particular emphasis on the families of those veterans.

At the 2004 DAVA National Convention, the delegates adopted a change to the constitution that would allow for males to join the auxiliary. A ballot was sent out to all units by National Auxiliary Headquarters asking the unit to vote on the change. A ratification of three-fourths of the units chartered was needed in order to put this change into effect. On February 15, 2005, the votes were counted and it was confirmed that the required percentage of units had voted to allow men to join the Auxiliary, if eligible. This change immediately became effective on the date of ratification.

The national Auxiliary programs depend totally on dues and contributions of its membership as the Auxiliary is not funded by the United States government.

DAVA Eligibility The spouse, surviving spouse, parents, siblings, children, grandparents, grandchildren and great grandchildren of any person eligible (or any deceased person who was eligible) for Disabled American Veterans membership are eligible for membership in the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary.

Children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of members of the Auxiliary who are not otherwise eligible for membership are eligible for membership in the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary.

Any person who is eligible for membership in the Disabled American Veterans is also eligible for membership in the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary.

The spouse, surviving spouse, parents, siblings, children, grandparents, grandchildren and great grandchildren of any person who was injured or disabled while serving with any of the armed forces of the nations associated with the United States of America and therefore eligible for membership in the Disabled American Veterans and who was honorably discharged and who became an American citizen, are also eligible.

The Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary shall not have honorary members.

DAVA Dues Structure Annual membership is offered on a fiscal year basis, July 1 through June 30. Annual membership is $15 a year. Dues must be paid each year to continue this type of membership.

Life membership is encouraged for anyone that meets the eligibility and wants to be a permanent member of the DAV Auxiliary. The life membership fee includes all dues, fees and assessments for the member's lifetime. Life membership may be obtained with a $40 minimum down payment and the balance to be paid within three full membership years. Fees are based on the member's age as follows:

Age 80 and over: Free Age 71-79: $140 Age 61-70: $180 Age 46-60: $200 Age 31-45: $230 Age 18-30: $250

External links

References

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