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National Adjutant Message

National Adjutant Message

J. Marc Burgess, National Adjutant

Something bigger than yourself

In 2013, I opened my first column as DAV’s eighth national adjutant by noting that my heroes have always been veterans. Now, as I close this chapter of my life, that sentiment is renewed and strengthened by the many new heroes I’ve met in my decade in this position and my career with DAV.

In looking back on DAV’s accomplishments throughout this pivotal time, I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve done to move our organization forward. And I couldn’t be more thankful for the efforts of our members and leaders for their exemplary service on behalf of our fellow veterans.

It is rare that life gives us an opportunity to take an inventory of our actions. But if ever there was a time, for me it is now.

With the support of nine national commanders and the counsel of numerous department, chapter and staff leaders, we’ve completely transitioned and elevated our brand; begun numerous new initiatives; weathered a pandemic; built a new national headquarters and marked a century of service to our fellow veterans.

We’ve seen a national monument dedicated that honors our cause and helped keep promises to veterans in millions of ways.

The list of achievements is vast and impressive. DAV has broadened our mission to include efforts to directly connect veterans with employment opportunities and entrepreneurship support. We implemented a training system that revolutionizes how we advocate for veterans benefits and nationalizes the institutional knowledge of generations of service officers.

Our outreach, itself a public service to veterans, has achieved more than 67 billion impressions and we’ve received more than $743 million in donated media through our public service announcements. On top of that, DAV has found creative, forward-thinking ways to engage the public and corporations to support our cause. Events like the DAV 5K, Field of Flags and numerous campaigns throughout the year have expanded our reach and infused new energy into our cause.

We also have many noteworthy successes in our public policy and legislative advocacy efforts. From our more recent victories on the PACT Act and with veteran caregivers, to advance appropriations and our ongoing efforts to ensure equitable treatment for women veterans (one of whom broke a glass ceiling and became our first female national commander) and the underserved in our community, we’ve met every major challenge that confronts our nation’s veterans. And we’ve done so in a way that brings great credit upon our institution.

We increased our partnership with our friends at VA to include co-presenting the National Disabled Veterans Golf Clinic and have helped thousands experience adaptive sports through it and the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic—both of which are supported in large part by DAV departments and chapters across the country.

The one commonality in all of our successes is my appreciation to the many who have made these things possible. A debt of tremendous gratitude is owed to past National Adjutant Art Wilson for how thoughtfully he prepared DAV and me personally for this important segment of our organization’s history.

And great thanks is also owed to Barry Jesinoski, who is going to make an incredible adjutant for DAV; Randy Reese, our voice in Washington; and their directors and teams who have supported me and our cause since my initial appointment to this post.

Nothing that has happened in the course of this last decade in service was accomplished alone. To go even further, it is hard to accept attribution for any success dating back to the first veteran I represented as what was then known as a trainee. At every stage in my journey, I was guided and blessed by my brothers and sisters who brought out the best in me.

That is the magic that is DAV. Through DAV, we are each given the opportunity to surrender our egos and channel the true and altruistic power of our entire organization. DAV simultaneously empowers the individual and makes each of us bigger than ourselves. It’s the reason that our forbearers began this cause. When they were weakened and laid bare and vulnerable through sacrifice, DAV fought to make them whole. In many cases of equal importance, DAV has given generations an even more meaningful opportunity – the chance to give back and support one another.

Thank you for your service and support. Collaborating alongside each of you has been a reward in and of itself. And cheers to our DAV and our next 100 years.

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