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National Adjutant Message

National Adjutant Message

Barry A. Jesinoski, National Adjutant

How World War II changed DAV

The weather in the channel on June 6, 1944, could have been better. In choppy waters and strong winds, the nearly 133,000 Allied troops—including 73,000 Americans—rocked back and forth in their landing crafts before stepping foot on the beaches of Normandy.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of what occurred in those waters and on those beaches that day—D-Day, the largest amphibious operation in military history. The battle turned the tide of World War II in Europe. Leading the assault force were the Allied nations of the United States, Great Britain and Canada, with thousands of troops storming the beaches forever known by their code names: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Some faced sudden death at the hands of entrenched German forces. Those who survived the initial waves saw unimaginable carnage as they fought for every inch of beachhead.

The bloodshed that began along Normandy’s beaches led to the liberation of France and was followed by brutal, yet triumphant, campaigns throughout Europe. Almost 11 months to the day following the invasion, the German Third Reich signed an unconditional surrender, ending Nazi tyranny, violence and oppression.

Those who fought at Normandy and during the rest of the Second World War left a mark on American and global history. They also changed how DAV extended much-needed help to the tens of thousands of returning veterans who required new assistance.

As the fighting that raged for four years ended, thousands who served in the European, Pacific and China-India-Burma theaters required help on a scale the nation had never seen. DAV membership soared upon return of the American fighting force.

Four times more troops served in World War II than in World War I. A new generation required a new response, and the Disabled American Veterans of the World War became known simply as Disabled American Veterans, or DAV.

Five months after the German surrender, DAV implemented a new National Service Officer Training Program at American University in Washington, D.C. There, a new generation—pioneers of veteran advocacy—emerged as experts, arming their fellow disabled veterans with the knowledge they need to navigate life’s new waters.

All told, 354 newly minted DAV benefits advocates were trained, equipping DAV with a strong foundation for what would become our organization’s premier facet.

As new conflicts emerge, sending brave American men and women into harm’s way, DAV must follow the path laid before us. We must continue to carry that torch, to innovate, grow and change as needed. By evolving, DAV will continue to be the most prepared to respond to the future needs of America’s warfighters.

While we cannot know when the next operation like D-Day will happen, we can rest assured that DAV will be there to support that generation of veterans and beyond.

If you want to find out more about the National Adjutant, you can find his biography here.