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National Commander Message

National Commander Message

Joe Parsetich, Commander

The importance of a family’s support for veterans

When DAV’s founders gathered for the first time more than a century ago, they did so because they were looking to each other for the support they needed to navigate the challenging postwar environment of veterans services and health care.

Especially during the early 1900s, the injuries and illnesses veterans incurred because of their time in service were looked at by civilians as weaknesses to be pushed through or as liabilities to producing satisfactory results at work. By forming a group of like-minded individuals, veterans could work together to advocate for legislation and programs to change those often-misguided perceptions. They could fight for the medical care they deserved.

But, as important as that bond was and continues to be, I want to shift focus away from veterans for a moment. I want to look at the people standing by their side. Because as necessary as DAV is as a community of support, service and advocacy, there is another group that has been around even longer: veterans’ families.

To those deployed, the support and encouragement from families back home was, in many cases, as important as ammo. For those of us who’ve served in war, that love was the source of motivation and drive to keep pushing forward.

We can never forget that. The work done on the battlefields of yesterday and that we do as veterans helping one another today is only possible with the support of our families.

Our Auxiliary is filled with these dedicated loved ones. Their work is rarely in the limelight, but they passionately carry out service and advocacy work for their veterans. Many of them serve as full-time caregivers. All of them understand the sacrifice of service.

A few months ago, I had a conversation with a spouse that’s stuck with me and speaks to this level of dedication.

She had driven her husband nearly a thousand miles to attend the National Disabled Veterans Golf Clinic in Riverside, Iowa, which DAV co-presents annually with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Her husband’s disability, which severely limits his mobility, had taken a toll on him mentally. His family watched him slip deeper into a dark place.

But thanks to his spouse’s willingness to travel, he was able to get out on the course with fellow veterans. The event revealed a smile and joy she hadn’t seen in him in a long time. She got choked up when she told me there was no limit to the distance she’d drive for him to get that feeling again.

Although his time in service is behind him, he’s still fighting battles. Recognizing that, she’s committed herself to continue to be the support and encouragement that he needs.

And, as it is for so many other veterans, that support is the very thing that’s giving him the drive to keep moving forward.

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