We are just back from DAV National Convention 2023. I think this was my 6th National Convention with DAV of MN. This year the Convention was held in lovely (sarcasm font) Atlantic City. It really wasn’t the nicest of locations, having to commute into AC from the Philadelphia Airport wasn’t the most convenient circumstance, and as always with a resort the food costs were ridiculously high… but you know, despite all of that I sure am glad I went.
National Convention is a time to learn, and to provide input into the future of organization. It is a place where the fact that the ultimate authority in this organization lies in the hands of our membership is front and center.
First the opportunities for learning. The seminar I enjoyed the most was titled “Psychedelic Research for PTSD/MAPS-PBC” I had the opportunity to learn about a new protocol for Veterans suffering from PTSD involving MDMA that has shown amazing results, so much so it was given a “breakthrough” designation from the FDA and the Doctor presenting the studies stated they will be submitting for FDA approval in the near future. It has shown effectiveness in 88% of the trial participants. You can learn more here.
There were also seminars on Women Veterans, media and social media training for Chapters/Depts, membership training, Chaplains seminar, employment, C&P Exams: What you should know, a benefits seminar, POW/MIA seminar, Inspector General, service and legislative seminar, and more. The National Convention is where our members can go to learn more, expand our skills, and bring those valuable lessons back to our chapters.
Secondly, but just as important is the opportunity to provide guidance on the future of our organization and to hear the reports on how National spends its money and the impacts. There are reports from the service foundation, the National Executive Committee, etc.. open to all members in attendance. There are also the important Convention Committees. This year was my 5th year being elected to the Legislation and Veterans Rights Committee, where the resolutions sent in by Departments are considered for inclusion in our priorities. Several other members from Minnesota were selected to represent the 14th District on these committees. Including Stephen Whitehead for the nominating committee, John Walker for the General Resolution and Membership, among others.
These committees are so important to the priorities our organization will pursue. The resolutions our Chapters from all over the country write, are discussed and accepted or rejected. I had the opportunity to Chair the National Committee this year, and while I think these have a reputation for “rubber stamping” I can assure there was great discussion, and at least two resolutions specifically where the Committee disagreed with the recommendation, amended the resolution and passed it. The ultimate authority truly does lie with our members. Not everyone can be elected to these committees, but everyone is absolutely welcome to be in the room and watch the work being done.
Finally, you get a chance to see how much of an impact this great organization has. I don’t think there was a member from Minnesota who wasn’t proud when Commander Ellsworth Fields presented a check for $110,000 to support events like the Winter Sports Clinic, Tee Clinic, and National Service Foundation on behalf of our Department and Foundation. Throughout the Convention we had heard and seen the impact our organization has, and were proud to support it moving forward. You can’t help but walk away from the National Convention feeling proud of the organization we all belong to.
We are a year out from the next National Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. I hope many of our Chapters will consider working into their budget supporting members to go, learn, experience, and come back to share the experience of National Convention. These are not vacations, I saw our members all over the convention, in and out of seminars, serving on committees, and having great discussions with DAV’ers from around the country learning and teaching. There is a value to these events, so please consider supporting even more Minnesota members to attend. I’ll leave the two people who read this far with my favorite quote, which applies to the National Convention among so many other things.
“Decisions are made by those who show up.” Sorkin
Trent C Dilks
Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of Minnesota