As the saying goes… “time flies!”.. wow. Here we are approaching the holiday season and snow! It seems like the convention was just weeks ago. What makes my time fly by is the fact that my days and weeks are filled with DAV business and my MN National Guard service. I am proud to be serving in both great organizations!!!
I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of DAV of MN and their service to veterans in MN. There has been highlight after highlight over the past few months. Many of our chapters have outstanding community programs, many of our members and families are in volunteer programs and making a difference. Our organization continues to grow because of our impact in statewide communities. Our business enterprises, both at State and Chapter levels, continues to work magic, thanks to our donors. Our MN DAV Donor Connection program and our VAMC transportation continue to lead the nation in miles driven, volunteer hours and veterans transported… and the awareness of MN DAV in many of our communities is growing by leaps and bounds.
We have so much to be proud of as we perform our organizations purpose and we clearly know that many veterans and their families wake up each and every morning with a better quality of life because of MN DAV. Our challenge is that we need to ensure our communities are aware of what we do and what we have accomplished and I ask that our Chapter leadership take special steps ( as I am ) to blow our horn in our communities. Information from National DAV was recently sent to leadership to help make this happen.
Let me share some of my highlights as your State Adjutant / Foundation Executive Director:
- MN was recognized for their DAV recruiting efforts at the National Convention
- Our booth at the MN State Fair was very effective in passing on information to visitors.
- The State Commander and I attended the State Commanders and Adjutants conference in Cincinnati and did a lot of networking as well as sharing our success with other nationwide attendees.
- We have made a huge impact on veteran transportation in NW MN by donating three new vans to the Fargo and St. Cloud VAMCs and working with their CVSOs to establish a transportation program to the Fargo and St. Cloud VAMCs. These vans are all placed in NW MN communities vs. dispatched from the VAMCs to make them more available.
- Our MN DAV Outdoors program has been launched and we have been sponsors of fishing programs, turkey, pheasant, goose and deer hunts for disabled veterans… and we continue to expand that program working with other VSOs, and Midwest Outdoors Unlimited.
- Our State Officers and Dept. Service Officer stand ready to visit chapters and we ask that you ensure you plan for a visit and make an invite in your Chapter annual plan.
- State Commander Hartley has been elected Chairman of the MN Commanders Task Force which is made up of the Commanders of the nine major veteran’s organizations. This serve as the Commissioners “cabinet”.
- We recently attended the 14th District Mtg in Fargo along with South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana. We shred our success stories there as well.
- We continue to distribute Hurrycanes throughout MN and 14th district donated by Martfive Co. Todate they have donated 6000 Hurrycanes to MN DAV.
- Our MN DAV Donor Connection program is another bit of DAV magic where we will end the year with over $500,000 worth of handicapped equipment being transferred from donors to disabled veterans and/or their families. Furthermore several of our Chapters have established their own donor connection programs.
- More and more of our chapters are participating in our Thrift program with outstanding results
- I would like to share just a few Chapter highlights with you:
- Rochester Mayo-Hiawatha Chapter has made a profound impact on the SE MN Community with their involvement in many veteran community programs. In a recent meeting they donated over $10,000 to local veterans projects and on a month to month basis have close to 50 members in attendance, including their local college vets club. They have focused on partnering with other veterans supporting efforts and have 3-5 outside speakers (short) in their mtgs.
- I can’t forget my NW Minnesota Chapters for all their help with the “new” DAV of MN transportation. North Central #7 (Bemidji), Crookston #14, Fergus Falls #25, Lakeland #31 (Detroit Lakes), and Park Rapids #38. Great job by all of them…
- Anoka Chapter #39 for all the great community support activities they do
- Soon we will be reaching the 1/2 way point in our year and we have some additional focus areas between now and the May Convention in Rochester:
- Public relations and Community awareness of DAV
- A relook at our organization structure with committees, by-laws in preparation for May Convention
- Our legislative priorities and communication of same to State and Federal legislators.
- An effort to reorganize the NE MN veteran’s transportation program to be more effective and efficient.
- Our fundraising programs (5K run, Golf benefit, etc.)
- New MN Outdoors programs
As you can see WE DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE thanks to so many of you and our donors.
BE PROUD and HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you and your loved one…. but as we move through the holiday season do something special for a disabled veteran in need.
Stephen Whitehead, DAV MN Adjutant & Foundation Executive Director