I hope you are all enjoying your summer with family and friends and at the same time providing summer enjoyment to the veterans we serve. It is a great time to be outdoors in our beautiful State ! One the early highlights of the summer for me, and many fellow DAVers was the June Trolling for the Troops event at Camp Ripley. We had the opportunity to provide disabled veterans along with active military troops fishing with volunteer professional guides/boats on the Mississippi at Camp Ripley as well as Lake Mille Lacs. This was the 4th annual event and once again a very successful one that came with a beautiful day as well. The DAV of MN is a major sponsor of this event. The DAV of MN Foundation conducted two fundraising events in May / June that were very successful:
- The Old Glory 5K Run/Walk in Cold Spring was once again well attended and the participants were treated to a perfect day. We were honored to have our National Commander Joe Johnston and National Adjutant Marc Burgess here in MN for the event. The proceeds for this event is targeted for service to veterans programs in the greater St. Cloud area.
- The DAV of MN Golf Classic at the Wilds in Prior Lake was once again very successful with a perfect day, 144 golfers, a exciting silent auction and a great dinner at the end of the day. There was even a “hole in one” shot by one of the golfers on his last hole! This was the most successful Golf Classic to date ( seven years ) with much thanks to Dean Ascheman, Mark Jaruszewski and Harry Wisdom.
I want to personally thank the volunteers, the participants and especially the very generous sponsors who play a huge role in the success of these events and ultimately in the quality of lives of veterans and families we serve. Some additional highlights over past 8 -10 weeks:
- National Commander and National Adjutant visit – National Commander and National Adjutant spent four days in MN in May and I had the opportunity to transport them around the State to see MN DAV in action.. They were clearly impressed!!
- The arrival of three new DAV vans to be used in our Transportation program – MN DAV purchased three new Ford vans that were donated to Minneapolis VAMC and the Superior Clinic. We thank our donors, and the National Columbia Trust for their generosity in making this purchase happen.
- The dedication of new furniture at the Minneapolis Veterans Home – There are three beautiful dayrooms at the Minneapolis Veterans Home outfitted with new furniture thanks to the DAV of MN Foundation. Dean Ascheman and I attended the open house at the home.
- New Department Officer Executive Committee orientation – We had a mtg for new State officers in St. Cloud in July which was focused on orientation and some of the goals we have for this year. I ask that you make plans to invite an officer to an upcoming Chapter mtg.
- South of the River Chapter 5 reorganization meeting – In an effort to better serve the members of Chapter 5 and those they serve we participated in a reorganization meeting. Our plan of action is in place and rolling out for next 60 days.
- Memorial Service for past National Executive Jerry Steelman of Walker – After his retirement from a National DAV position in Washington DAV HQ we were fortunate to have Jerry Steelman return to his native state of MN and actively serve the veterans of our State. Jerry passed away recently and I attended his memorial service in Walker this month. Jerry was clearly an inspiration to many.
- We ended our fiscal year with our financial and business goals exceeding plan. Great news again! Our DAV of MN continues to grow with new recruits. We once again far exceeded our new membership goals in the 2013-2014 membership year and were 1st in our division and in the top three nationally.
I am quite excited to serve with the officers you have elected to serve in leadership roles with me. We have new ideas, new initiatives and new priorities already on the table and I expect we, as a team, will make a difference this year. We have some new committees in place as a result of our by-laws changes that will assist us in focus on the priorities and challenges we face today in our veterans communities today.
Let me share with you a few of our top focus items: We have a few chapters that need a “jumpstart” and we hope to meet with the leadership of these chapters to see what we can do to assist. We have scheduled a Chapter level Commanders and Adjutants Conference for September in an effort to provide orientation to our chapter leadership. In addition, we hope to send the leadership home with new ideas, renewed vigor, and more effective in service to veterans programs.
We hope to play a role in assisting our auxiliary leadership at the Department level with end results expected to be stronger leadership at all levels, stronger partnership with DAV, and a clear set of programs we can continue to support. I feel the auxiliary is a key part of DAV success nationwide. We have the opportunity to start a couple of new Chapters in several areas of the State not currently well served by DAV. We intend to pursue that opportunity. We plan to focus on public relations and public awareness of MN DAV and especially at the Chapter level. We do a great job with service to veterans but need to blow our horn a bit more! We are going to help with that.
Over the next month and beyond I will be attending the National Convention in Las Vegas and the dedication of the Disabled Veterans for Life memorial in DC. In August we will have our DAV booth at the State Fair in the 4-H building. If you attend the Fair, please stop by.
In closing I want to encourage you to visit our website www.davmn.org as well as “like us” on Facebook. We have a lot of information shared via these sites as a part of our outreach initiative. I also want to have the DAV Chapters and units share information about their service to veterans programs so we can highlight then via social media and press releases in your community.
Have a great Summer, and make a difference in the life of veterans in your community ;
David Valtinson, State Commander