I am pleased to share with you a synopsis of the ninety fifth annual convention hosted by the DAV Department of Minnesota.
Stephen Whitehead, DAV of Minnesota Adjutant / Executive Director
The three day convention was held at the Mankato City Center Hotel, Thursday April 30 through Saturday May 2. Twenty-five DAV chapters statewide attended including Auxiliary units. In all, over 200 men and women representing all branches of the military participated in the convention. The object of the convention was to bring us all together to review our accomplishments and challenges, network with our colleagues, and elect our new 2015-16 Executive Committee.
During the business sessions, reports were presented on topics such as; Budget, Legislation, DAV Outdoors, Enterprise, DAV MN Foundation, National Service Office, Local Veterans Assistance Program, and Transportation Network. For example, in 2013-14, the MN DAV Transportation Network transported to medical appointments over 20,000 veterans 1,100,000 miles which contributed to over 53,000 hours of volunteer time! Several facilitated breakouts session were held to gather feedback on topics such as improving public awareness and proposed changes to our DAV constitution and bylaws.
I reported that we have expanded numerous DAV of MN programs to help more veterans. We increased our focus on critical success factors such as chapter growth, outreach programs, strategy and oversight / accountability. We provided chapter leadership conferences focused on training, leadership, purpose, public relations, programs, best practices. We have a long term strategy for the department and foundation and are financially sound.
State Commander David Valtinson presented the “Commander of the Year Award” to Bruce Johnson, from Chapter #6 Duluth and “Adjutant of the Year Award” to Nick Carter, from Chapter #28 Mayo Southeast. The “Lyle C Pearson, Sr. Award” which is the highest honor given by the DAV of MN department to a person who go above and beyond to help veterans and is very active in the community was presented to Ken Gibson from Chapter #2 St. Paul. An “Outstanding Service Award” was presented to Katy Ryan, Director of Minneapolis VA Medical Center Voluntary/Community Resource Services. The Auxiliary Commander presented the “Katherine Pearson Award” to Robyn Kenney, Auxiliary Chapter #37 Hutchinson.
Adjutant’s Five Priorities
To continue our successful track record, my five priorities for the future include:
- Continuing our course of leading the veteran’s transportation program and new initiatives for MN veterans in need of transportation to and from VAMCs and CBOCs.
- Supplementing the National Service Officer (NSO) program with an aggressive and focused MN DAV Department Service Office Program (DSO), ensuring Dept. of MN DAV presence and assistance is on the ground Statewide, and the partnership with MN CVSOs is maximized.
- Expanding our initiatives to ensure each and every one our Statewide Chapters are vibrant, active, focused on our purpose, and that their presence is clearly visible in their communities…. and that aggressive corrective action be taken if needed. This would include fundraising efforts (i.e.: Thrift bins, etc.)
- Continuing our focus on our current business enterprises to ensure longevity and maximum profitability and to look for new business opportunities to expand to new enterprises as they present themselves.
- Taking the leading effort among the MN VSOs to develop / propose / fund / implement our MN DAV Outdoors program for disabled veterans.
The DAV organization of MN elected Greg Remus as State Commander of the 20,000 member organization at the convention.
The Executive Committee positions include:
- State Commander – Greg Remus of Park Rapids
- 1st Jr. Vice Commander – Robert Saddoris of Pinewood (not in the picture)
- 2nd Jr. Vice Commander – Rick Jarvis of Little Falls
- 3rd Jr. Vice Commander – Dave Wentzel of Mankato
- 4th Jr. Vice Commander – Gerry Holkko of Virginia
- Chaplain – Richard Jenkins of Newport
- Judge Advocate – Scott Berndt of Anoka
- Past State Department Commander – David Valtinson of Grand Rapids
- Treasurer – Dean Ascheman of Rosemount
I personally want to thank all the past department commanders for their support throughout the year. A big thank you to our department staff, all DAV departments, foundation officers, chapters / members and auxiliary units for what you do and for the support and assistance you have provided. Our nation’s heroes deserve nothing but the very best, it is with your help that we are able to give the just that – The Very Best.
It was a great year and we have only just begun!
If you have any questions about the DAV of Minnesota contact the department office at phone 612-291-1212.