First, and foremost, I hope you all have a fun, and safe, 4th of July. I know this year will look different for many of you, but it is always a great time to look back on where we have been as a country and look forward to where we are going.
I have been doing something very similar for the DAV of MN the last couple of weeks as we approach the holiday. As many of you know our new year as an organization starts July 1st. That means this is the time of the year to look back on where we have been as an organization, and look forward to where we are going.
As we look back, it has been a tough year. A truly unprecedented year for our 100-year-old organization, as we have seen our Chapter’s cancel meetings, our Department Convention cancelled, our National Convention cancelled, our major fundraiser ground to a halt as the economy closed down, but the one thing that wasn’t cancelled is our mission. You cannot cancel our devotion to serve Minnesota’s disabled Veterans and their families. You will see in this newsletter articles from each of our programs highlighting what we as an organization have been doing to continue to achieve our mission, even in these unprecedented times.
As I look back, I am incredibly proud of how we have handled this pandemic, I am proud to be a member of this organization, and I am truly fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as your Adjutant.
Looking forward is the other major part of this time of year, and I am as excited as ever for where our organization is headed. We will continue to expand our services into new areas, continue to pursue new opportunities for new types of service, and continue to remain focused on our mission. The Department of Minnesota anticipates we will spend over $1 million dollars on veterans’ services in FY 20-21 alone. That is a major accomplishment, and something we can all be proud to be a part of.
There will be challenges, and the pandemic appears to be far from over, but I am confident we have built something strong enough to overcome any challenge we may face. We will remain focused on what matter most, serving our Veterans and their families.
Have a safe and joyful 4th of July,
Trent C Dilks, Adjutant
The Fourth of July is a cause for celebration. Fireworks, fairs, barbecuing with family and friends, parades, you name it. We often look forward to this day for months because of all the fun that it brings, but we must not forget why we celebrate in the first place.
We celebrate because on July 4th 1776 we declared our independence from England, as the 13 original colonies, and started what we know today as the United States of America. So, while we celebrate in different ways with our parties, with families, friends, fireworks, and fairs remember what it truly means to be an American and to be free.
Remember our Veterans, brothers and sisters that fought for our freedom. It’s not just a three-day holiday, it is a time to give thanks to all of our Veterans now in the present and in the past.
During this pandemic the way you celebrate may be different from what you’re used to doing. There may not be fairs to gather at, a fireworks display in town, or large parties but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate America’s birthday at home. Remember to social distance yourself at least 6 feet away from other individuals not in your home, to safely and correctly light fireworks by following the proper procedures, and to stay safe.
We wish we could be celebrating with you all, but it’s important to stay safe during these hard times. Whatever way you decide to celebrate remember to wash your hands often, wear a mask when appropriate, and practice safe social distancing.
Happy 4th of July to you all, stay safe, have fun and celebrate America’s birthday.
Scott Berndt, Commander
Items listed below are needed at all Minnesota Veterans Homes
and both St. Cloud and Minneapolis VA Medical Centers.
Please contact the closest facility to arrange a time to donate.
• Masks (Handmade and medical grade (see included CDC recommendations on sewn cloth face covering)).
• Long sleeve exam gowns (Medical grade or handmade from 100% cotton).
• Hand sanitizer
• Small craft kits (for individuals)
• Adult coloring books
• Large print word finds
• Small packs of crayons or colored pencils
• Large piece puzzles (100, 300 or 500 piece)
• Magazines (current and brand new)
• Handheld games (such as poker, blackjack, or solitaire)
• Gift cards to Amazon or Walmart to use online
• Snacks (individually wrapped, examples below)
o Cheese and cracker packs
o Snack bags of chips
o Hostess products (twinkies, cupcakes, donuts etc.)
o Candy bars
o Werther’s caramels
Specific Facility Needs:
Hastings Veterans Home Ground Coffee
Silver Bay Veterans Home CDs with 50s, 60s & 70s music
Minneapolis Veterans Home 12 packs of soda (Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew & 7up) Event sponsorship (examples: ice cream social, grill out, happy hour or pizza party)
Luverne Veterans Home Event sponsorship (examples: ice cream social, grill out, happy hour or pizza party)
Fergus Falls Veterans Home: 218-736-0400
Hastings Veterans Home: 651-539-2442
Luverne Veterans Home: 507-283-6200
Minneapolis Veterans Home: 612-548-5751
Silver Bay Veterans Home: 218-353-8700
St. Cloud VAMC: 320-255-6365
Minneapolis VAMC: 612-725-2050
Earlier this week over 30 members from the DAV MN return to Minnesota after another successful DAV Mid-Winter Conference. While I didn’t take time to count up members from every other Department, I feel confident saying we once again had the largest delegation of members in attendance to learn and advocate.
This was my fifth year leading a group out to DC in my role as your BPTL at the Department level, and every year I am impressed by the professionalism and passion our members bring to Washington. This year members met with staff members from all 8 U.S. Representative’s Offices, learned more about our national legislative priorities during a 2-hour briefing, heard from the VA Undersecretary for Benefits, attended a meeting with U.S. Senator Tina Smith, and met with Rep. Phillips, Emmer, and McCollum at our annual Congressional Breakfast.
The highlight of the trip was getting the opportunity to see MN’s own Stephen “Butch” Whitehead address a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. National Commander Whitehead spoke in a strong voice that now is the time to take action to help our Nation’s disabled Veterans and their survivors.
It was a lot to get done in 3 ½ days and our members stayed busy and likely returned tired. Every year I hear from our members how glad they are that they came, how much they learned, and how motivated they are to bring these lessons home. I would like to thank the Chapters that have supported their members to attend, this advocacy is our mission and we must remember that. Also, to the chapters that historically send zero participants, please start considering sending at least one member for Mid-Winter 2021. It is so important to have a mixture of voices from across Minnesota participating in our advocacy.
Thank you again to everyone who attended.
Trent C Dilks, Dept. Adjutant