Whether you’re a veteran who served in WWII or recently served in Afghanistan, navigating the system of benefits for veterans can be difficult. That’s where the organization Disabled American Veterans (DAV) comes in. Founded in 1920, the charity organization provides veterans with free assistance in finding services for a number of needs, including physical and emotional. The organization also provides numerous volunteer opportunities for its members.
DAV is focused on helping veterans receive the benefits and assistance they need, regardless of when they served. “What makes DAV different is we are inclusive. We’ll help you in any way we can. Sometimes, we find that veterans have benefits they have no idea they earned. Even if you think you don't have an illness or injury that qualifies you, we’ll help anyone who walks into our offices,” Steve Wilson, DAV’s assistant national director of communications, said.
According to DAV’s annual report for 2013, the organization “assisted veterans with more than 330,000 claims,” providing much-needed support and assistance both for those who served, and for veterans’ families.
According to Wilson, veterans from all generations have joined DAV. “We have veterans, about 1.2 million members, from current conflicts and up to and including vets of WWII. The typical member tends to be a bit older and tends to join when they need help. We do have members of all eras, and some are active duty,” Wilson explained.
How To Join
There are several ways to join DAV, including through the organization’s website or by sending a completed application via mail. Members don’t have to be in the military or have served to join the organization, either. Through DAV Auxiliary, people who are not in the military can join and support both the organization and veterans.
Members of DAV have access to a number of volunteer opportunities through the organization. For example, volunteers can drive veterans to medical appointments, allowing veterans to stay up-to-date with their medical needs. Wilson pointed out that volunteers can also provide services to veterans living right in their own communities by offering to complete chores like mowing the lawn or shoveling sidewalks. Volunteers can also spend time at local Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and provide assistance for veterans. Members can also make donations to DAV so the organization can continue its mission. The organization received an overall rating of four out of four stars for fiscal year ending December 2012 from the website Charity Navigator
Through its employment services, DAV can assist veterans in job searches. The organization co-hosts job fairs specifically for veterans, and also helps veterans find job training programs.
DAV organizes a number of events throughout the year for members to learn more about the organization, as well as any policies and legislation that may affect them. For example, DAV’s annual national convention, which was most recently held in August 2014 in Las Vegas, featured a number of seminars and a memorial service. Other events have included a winter sports clinic and 5K races held around the country to honor those who served.
For additional information on joining DAV or to find out how you can participate in its events held around the country, you can take a look at the organization’s website.
Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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