When 200,000 wounded WWI veterans came home a century ago our nation gasped at the horror of injuries caused by mechanized and chemical warfare. Veterans returned missing arms and legs. They were blind, deaf, or mentally injured.
Many of these soldiers had been kept alive by improvements in medical technology, but the advancements made on the battlefield created a brutal reality—these veterans would require a lifetime of care.
Our government was not prepared for this truth. There was no single government program or agency like today’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that could claim overall responsibility for the veterans.
From this horror and hardship came hope. On September 25, 1920, the Disabled American Veterans of the World War (now DAV—Disabled American Veterans) was founded and headed by WWI veteran and Cincinnati Judge Robert S. Marx.
Marx summed up the need for DAV by saying, “We had a common experience which bound us together, and we are out to continue through an organization of our own… an organization of us, by us and for us.”
A century later, medical improvements continue to save lives on the battlefield that would have been lost in previous wars. However, with veterans surviving combat related injuries at a higher rate it thrusts a significant responsibility onto our nation to provide support, services and benefits to wounded veterans when they come home.
When a young man or woman answers the call to serve, they are making a commitment—to our great nation, themselves, their branch of service and those they stand shoulder to shoulder with while in uniform.
In return, America made a commitment to all individuals who wore our country’s uniform: If, in the course of defending our ideals, they pay the ultimate sacrifice or are forever changed, we promise we will afford them or their survivors the opportunity to enjoy the American way of life they made possible.
Today’s veterans represent a smaller percentage of the population than we did a century ago. Our history tells us that as the trumpets fade, so can our national priorities. We have turned a great corner in terms of how we welcome home our veterans compared to how we treated them a generation ago. But if a century has taught us anything, it’s that the relationship between the public and the few who stand for its defense requires our constant vigilance.
As we mark our founding, we ask for your support and commitment to those who’ve served. We want all who appreciate the contributions of veterans to know that we are here to help you honor their sacrifices. Caring for our nation’s heroes is everyone’s responsibility and we owe them a lifetime of care and support. And with your continued resolve, we can continue the great push we’ve made to ensure our promises are kept in the century ahead.
Please visit www.dav.org to learn how you can get involved with DAV and help veterans today or visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DAV .
This year’s DAV Forget-Me-Not fundraising drive will be Sept. 18th, 19th and 20th. DAV Chapter and Unit members will be manning collection buckets throughout their five-plus county area. For those not leaving home during the pandemic and wish to make a donation for this year’s Drive you can make a check payable to “DAV # 39” and in the memo area write “Forget-Me-Not 2020,” and mail to Scott Berndt, DAV Chapter 39, 3443 136th Ave. NW, Andover, MN 55304.
Today, Friday, September 11, we pause to remember an attack that took the lives of nearly 3,000 lives at the World Trade Center, Shanksville, PA., and the Pentagon. Evil struck, but it did not shake our strength, resolve, and unbreakable spirit. For the next two nights, lights will illuminate the World Trade Center, Flight 93 Tower of Voices, and Pentagon 9-11 memorials as a tribute to those that lost their lives. Flags should be flown at half-staff (or a black ribbon attached to the upper staff for stationary flags) to honor those lost https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spHFMvhWue4
DAV kicked off their centennial celebration by issuing a challenge to EVERYONE for the year 2020. To commemorate 100 years of DAV keeping the promise to America’s Veterans, they call on individuals, companies, schools, clubs, DAV chapters, auxiliary units and members, as well as our fellow organizations, to conduct 100 Acts of Honor in the name of Veterans. No act is too big or too small when it comes to honoring the men and women who’ve served. Be sure to share your act of honor on social media, tag DAV and use the hashtag #100ActsofHonor. This will ensure your actions are recognized and counted towards our goal.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) here in Minnesota certainly stepped up to the plate to contribute to #100ActsOfHonor. “This past spring our group had the opportunity to work with the Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity organization who build houses for low-income Veterans,” shares Travis Rust, a member of Minnesota DAV Chapter 39. Rust, a disabled Marine Corps Veteran and president of the Veterans Committee for IBEW Local Union 292 said, “The Veterans Committee was able to assemble a small working party during the Covid-19 restrictions to wire the Habitat for Humanity Veterans Build in Sauk Rapids.”
“The house has a two-car attached garage, three bedrooms upstairs and one master bedroom on the main floor. All doors are wide enough for wheelchair access and the bathroom on the main floor is handicap accessible. Every Veterans home built gets a flagpole mounted in the front yard with permanent wiring, so the stars and stripes remain well-lit in the evenings,” said Rust. “We appreciate the opportunity to help a Veteran in need and look forward to doing more in the future. We would also like to thank Erickson Electric for donating the material, tools, and getting the permit for the build.”
“Low-income Veterans in need of a home can apply by contacting Jessica Dahl at the Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity office by writing Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity, 3335 West Saint Germain Street, Suite 108, Saint Cloud, MN 56301 or email [email protected] You can also find us on Facebook at IBEW Veterans Committee Local 292.”
MN DAV Chapter 39 will meet on Thursday, Sept. 10, at 6:30 PM at the VFW, 1919 Coon Rapids Blvd., Coon Rapids, MN 55433. Wear of protective mask and/or face shield REQUIRED throughout the meeting. Please maintain social distancing and seating is limited to no more than 3 per table. With fund-raising event limitations this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PLEASE consider signing up for the Forget-Me-Not drive which will be held at multiple locations on Sept 18, 19 and 20. We will discuss the possibility of utilizing Zoom as an option for members to participate in future meetings perhaps as soon as October.
Suicide is a national public health concern that affects all Americans. September is Suicide Prevention Month, a national month-long initiative originated by VA to amplify awareness around suicide prevention and connect Veterans and their supporters with the resources they need. Suicide is preventable. Be There emphasizes the role each person plays in preventing Veteran suicide, inspiring hope and action among audiences by encouraging each of them to Be There (even in small ways) to support Veterans, throughout Suicide Prevention Month and each month after.
If someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
Individuals and organizations can learn more at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/support/be-there