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
It is a great honor to announce that DAV MN BPTL – Trent Dilks, was selected by DAV National Legislative Director as the Division II Outstanding Performance in Advocacy. As you all know, Trent has done an outstanding job at advocating on behalf of the disabled veterans and their spouses, not only for State of MN issues but for National issues as well. Keep up the great work Trent!!
Stephen “Butch” Whitehead, DAV National Commander
I am happy to announce we are currently scheduled to have Veterans Day on the Hill (VDOTH) 2020 on April 20th, 2020. I am well aware this is the latest date to hold the event since I have been involved with the planning, and I want to assure the setting of a date was not without reasons:
- This is the session leading up to an election, I fully
suspect that the pace will go something like this: Initial committee work,
two months of issues based politicking to appeal to elected official’s
base, final weeks to complete the work necessary and govern.
- The later date is partially based on my belief that the combined efforts of the Veteran’s community can push our supported legislation through the first couple of stops in the committee process which is the first part of how I suspect the session will go.
- Historically, interest in the process has been high
early on when the path for bills is relatively predictable; original
committee, subsequent committee, etc.. with regularly scheduled committee
hearings. However, once the process starts to “breakdown” into legislation
being “held over for possible inclusion”, entire bills become small parts
of a ‘monster’ omnibus bill, etc.. it becomes hard to explain the process,
difficult to coordinate responses, and our advocacy suffers as a result at
the most important times.
- A later date will allow for a clear statement of current position in the most confusing part of the process.
- We can focus our advocacy on the bills that actually have a chance. It’s harsh to say, but many of our groups will support many pieces of legislation but the honest truth is very few of them have a chance based on the priorities set during the session.
- As a community we can make it clear that by holding Veterans Day on the Hill this late we would gladly make it into a celebration if our elected officials get their work done for Veterans within the first three months of session. If they decide to keep Veteran’s issues moving, and above the predictable partisan fighting, they can all enjoy a day of being cheered for a job well done.
- However, if the more likely scenario happens where politicking is taking the place of progress, this later date will have us positioned to make a strong call for our officials to “Get it DONE for our Veterans” (or some better tagline).
- This is Minnesota and the weather can suck earlier in the session.
Additional details will emerge as the CTF, UVLC, and MACVSO work toward their vision of the formal VDOTH proceedings. The DAV MN does intend to offer funding busses and providing a lunch prior to the formal event again this year. Details will be shared as they become available.
Please feel free to reach out me with questions or concerns. The gavel will drop before we know it and it is important we continue to work together for our Veterans.
Trent C Dilks
Disabled American Veterans, Dept. of Minnesota
20 West 12th St., 3rd Flr, St. Paul, MN 55155
O: (651) 291.1212 C: (651) 788.3186
The DAV of MN, Northeast Minnesota Transportation Program launched a new volunteer driver transportation program in Ely to assist area veterans in making scheduled Veteran Affairs appointments.
On Monday October 21 volunteer drivers Tom Brown and Sherry Brown assisted NE DAV Transportation Coordinator Daniel Welsand deliver a 2015 Ford Flex to Ely. The vehicle was presented to Paul McDonald St. Louis County Commissioner where it will be housed at the County Commissioners Office. The Ford Flex will be utilized in helping Ely and surrounding area veterans get to their VA approved appointments. Currently, we are still trying to figure out routes for the area, but veterans are encouraged to call for details. We will service the Ely CBOC, the Hibbing CBOC, Twin Ports CBOC, and other Mission Act appointments if they are approved through Veterans Affairs. We are also looking for volunteer drivers in the area. The program currently has four volunteer drivers but is looking to increase that amount.
We are always looking for new volunteer drivers in all areas of MN. The DAV of MN NE currently has programs in Duluth/Superior, Hibbing/Virginia, and now Ely. If you are retired or just have 1 day a month to spare to help veterans get to their VA appointments, please contact Daniel Welsand at 218-204-0693 or inquire at [email protected] to help out. For other volunteer driver opportunities, please visit the DAV of MN website at davmn.org.