Centennial LogoIn 2020, DAV celebrates its centennial anniversary and mark 100 years of service and support for America’s injured and ill veterans and their families.

The Disabled American Veterans of the World War (now DAV—Disabled American Veterans) was founded by former Cincinnati Judge Robert S. Marx in 1920. Marx, a U.S. Army captain who received the Distinguished Service Cross during the First World War, recognized that the nation was ill-equipped to provide the medical care and services the more than 200,000 injured and ill returning war veterans needed—and had earned.

Since the time of our founding, we have stood as an organization of veterans serving veterans as they make the critical transition from military service to civilian life. Today, with a century of service and support under our belts and more than 1 million members in our ranks, DAV continues the fight to make medical care, employment, education and other earned benefits accessible to America’s 4 million disabled veterans.

Veterans need our help today, as much as they did 100 years ago. They have earned the right to participate in the American Dream they helped to defend, and we will continue our work to help make that promise possible well into the future.

Please join us this year as we mark this momentous anniversary in DAV’s history of service to the men and women who served.

 

Update on DAV Centennial Celebration

Through the years

1918 – WWI ends
1920 – DAVWW founded
1921 – First national convention held
1921 – Veterans Bureau created
1922 – Ford caravan to second national convention
1922 – Auxiliary founded
1931 – National Service Foundation established
1932 – Federal charter created
1932 – The Bonus Army marches
1941 – Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor
1943 – DAVWW becomes DAV
1944 – Service officer training program begins
1944 – Servicemen’s Readjustment Act signed
1946 – Membership milestone reached
1950 – Korean War begins
1955 – Vietnam War begins
1958 – Survivors benefits overhaul
1958 – New membership milestone reached
1962 – Use of Agent Orange begins
1966 – Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act introduced
1966 – New National Headquarters opens
1974 – Field Service Unit program begins
1976 – Membership milestone achieved
1977 – The Forgotten Warrior Project begins
1976 – National Service and Legislative Headquarters opens
1980 – PTSD formally recognized
1983 – Marine Corps barracks bombed
1984 – Montgomery GI Bill
1985 – DAV reaches 1 million members
1986 – DAV Charitable Service Trust established
1987 – Transportation Network launches
1987 – Winter sports clinic partnership begins
1988 – Court of Veterans Appeals established
1989 – Veterans Administration elevated to cabinet level
1990 – The Persian Gulf War begins
1991 – Agent Orange Act passed
1993 – Jesse Brown named VA secretary
1994 – Service Officer Academy established
1994 – Gary Sinise awarded
1996 – Eligibility reform introduced
1996 – Women veterans summit held
1996 – Colorado Trust established
2000 – Women veterans, POW/MIAs and homeless veterans events held
2001 – America attacked
2001 – Mobile Service Office program established
2001 – Transition Service program established
2001 – Department and Chapter Service Officer training program established
2003 – Youth scholarship renamed
2006 – Case Management System created
2007 – Burn pit hazards identified
2008 – Stand Up for Veterans Campaign launched
2008 – Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act passed
2009 – Advanced Appropriations signed
2010 – Caregiver program established
2013 – Military combat roles open to women
2014 – Employment program begins
2014 – American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedicated
2014 – Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home published
2014 – Operation: Keep the Promise
2015 – Mentorship program
2016 – iTRAK digital training established
2016 – DAV co-presents Veterans TEE Tournament
2017 – Gender barriers broken
2018 – Appeals modernization enacted
2018 – VA MISSION Act passed
2018 – Hiring guide published
2019 – Blue Water Navy Act passed

1918 – WWI ends

An entire generation of returning veterans, many of whom have been wounded or gassed, fill America’s streets. With incredibly limited resources, the veterans of the Great War have come home to a weakened economy and a government ill-prepared to confront the realities of wartime service. View full image
1918 – WWI ends

1920 – DAVWW founded

Judge Robert Marx, a disabled war hero and Cincinnati Superior Court judge, convenes several hundred fellow veterans to form the Disabled American Veterans of the World War (DAVWW), in Cincinnati, Ohio, the founding city and first headquarters for national operations. The group bands together to give voice to the 741,000 veterans forever changed in wartime service.
1920 – DAVWW founded

1921 – First national convention held

More than 1,000 disabled veterans from every U.S. state and territory travel to Detroit to participate in the organization’s first national convention.
1921 – First national convention held

1921 – Veterans Bureau created

DAVWW supports establishment of the Veterans Bureau, a predecessor of today’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
1921 – Veterans Bureau created

1922 – Ford caravan to second national convention

With the means to travel to the DAVWW’s second National Convention limited, particularly for veterans with severe disabilities, Henry Ford organizes a cross-country caravan of 50 Model T Fords to transport DAVWW members, beginning a robust and committed partnership between the DAV and the Ford Motor Company.
1922 – Ford caravan to second national convention

1922 – Auxiliary founded

Following the DAVWW national convention, the DAV of the World War Auxiliary is founded to focus on the families of veterans disabled during their wartime service. Although the organization is initially for the sisters, wives and daughters of servicemen, it will expand eligibility to men in 2005.
1922 – Auxiliary founded

1931 – National Service Foundation established

The National Service Foundation is established to assist in raising funds for the service initiatives of the DAV national organization. The Foundation initially serves to ensure that the National Service Program and other service initiatives will always be available for veterans of every era of conflict. Over the years, the Foundation’s role will expand and adapt to reflect the ever-changing needs of veterans.
1931 – National Service Foundation established

1932 – Federal charter created

Congress recognizes the DAV of the World War as the official voice of America’s wartime disabled veterans.
1932 – Federal charter created

1932 – The Bonus Army marches

In the midst of the Great Depression, DAVWW members are among 43,000 veterans to march on Washington demanding cash payment for service certificates. The protest is violently squelched by Army infantry and cavalry.
1932 – The Bonus Army marches

1941 – Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor

The attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu draws the nation into World War II. Americans flood recruiting offices to enlist in the armed forces. A full 12% of the total population will sign up to serve.
1941 – Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor

1943 – DAVWW becomes DAV

With the world at war again and a focus on advocacy for future generations, the National Executive Committee shortens the name of the organization to Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
1943 – DAVWW becomes DAV

1944 – Service officer training program begins

The first 354 national service officers are trained at American University in Washington, D.C, providing a new generation of disabled veterans the knowledge and expertise they need to represent their fellow veterans returning from the war. The training expands to The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., in 1967.
1944 – Service officer training program begins

1944 – Servicemen’s Readjustment Act signed

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G.I. Bill, into law. It provides veterans returning from World War II with education and vocational training, low-cost home loans and expanded veteran health care.
1944 – Servicemen’s Readjustment Act signed

1946 – Membership milestone reached

For the first time, DAV membership hits 100,000.
1946 – Membership milestone reached

1950 – Korean War begins

North Korean forces invade south, and the U.S. comes to South Korea’s aid as head of the United Nations Command. Three years later, after a stalemate, veterans return from the “Forgotten War.” DAV service officers push to represent them.
1950 – Korean War begins

1955 – Vietnam War begins

The Military Assistance Advisory Group-Vietnam is designated, beginning a politically and socially fraught war that won’t officially end until 1975. Of the 2.7 million who will serve in country, 58,220 Americans will be killed and 304,000 wounded—though the full cost of the war on Vietnam veterans is ongoing. A total of 9 million Americans will serve on active duty during the Vietnam era.
1955 – Vietnam War begins

1958 – Survivors benefits overhaul

DAV and the DAV Auxiliary push for total revision of survivor benefits program. Dependency and Indemnity Compensation creates a safety net for spouses and families of veterans who die as a result of service-connected injuries or illness and ensures automatic increases tied to military pay rates.
1958 – Survivors benefits overhaul

1958 – New membership milestone reached

DAV reaches 200,000 members for the first time.
1958 – New membership milestone reached

1962 – Use of Agent Orange begins

American forces in Vietnam begin using Agent Orange to remove foliage that has provided enemy cover, exposing U.S. troops to the chemical in the process. In use until 1971, the defoliant will cause widespread illness and prompt numerous legislative battles. The federal government will later direct the then-Institute of Medicine to issue reports every two years to assess the risk of both cancer and non-cancer health effects of the toxic herbicide. The report, “Veterans and Agent Orange,” is first published in 1994.
1962 – Use of Agent Orange begins

1966 – Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act introduced

DAV advocates for passage of the Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act to make newly returned Vietnam veterans eligible for benefits similar to those granted to veterans of World War II and the Korean War, including the more than 300,000 who have returned home wounded.
1966 – Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act introduced

1966 – New National Headquarters opens

DAV establishes its new national headquarters in Cold Spring, Ky., across the river from Cincinnati.
1966 – New National Headquarters opens

1974 – Field Service Unit program begins

A caravan of six new motor homes is converted to rolling offices, kicking off the Field Service Unit program. DAV takes its services to the suburbs and rural areas of America, often distant from DAV offices, to deliver benefits advocacy to the underserved.
1974 – Field Service Unit program begins

1976 – Membership milestone achieved

DAV membership climbs above 500,000.
1976 – Membership milestone achieved

1977 – The Forgotten Warrior Project begins

The DAV-funded Forgotten Warrior Project defines the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder among­ war veterans. Research results in the creation of DAV’s Vietnam Veterans Outreach Program, which will ultimately be adopted by the VA and serve as the model for today’s Vet Center program.
1977 – The Forgotten Warrior Project begins

1976 – National Service and Legislative Headquarters opens

As America celebrates its bicentennial, DAV opens its National Service & Legislative Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to ensure the voices of our nation’s wartime disabled are heard and to advocate on their behalf.
1976 – National Service and Legislative Headquarters opens

1980 – PTSD formally recognized

Largely as a result of research gathered through DAV’s Forgotten Warrior Project, PTSD is recognized in the third edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders. Consequently, PTSD is included as a disability in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
1980 – PTSD formally recognized

1983 – Marine Corps barracks bombed

A suicide bomber detonates a truck bomb at the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241. As a result, the U.S. withdraws peacekeeping forces and a new form of terrorism is born.
1983 – Marine Corps barracks bombed

1984 – Montgomery GI Bill

The Montgomery GI Bill provides up to 36-months of educational benefits to veterans who served at least two-years on active duty for service members who paid $100 per month for their first year of service. It remains a premier recruiting goal and veteran benefit until Congress passes the Post 9/11-GI Bill in 2008.
1984 – Montgomery GI Bill

1985 – DAV reaches 1 million members

DAV membership swells to 1 million veterans.
1985 – DAV reaches 1 million members

1986 – DAV Charitable Service Trust established

The DAV Charitable Service Trust is established to fill gaps in crucial services that help veterans beyond DAV’s traditional services and government programs. The Trust provides grants to nonprofit organizations with gifts primarly given through workplace giving campaigns. More than $70,000,000 have been awarded across 1,275 grants since the Trust was established.
1986 – DAV Charitable Service Trust established

1987 – Transportation Network launches

In response to government cuts to travel benefits, DAV creates a national network of volunteer drivers administered by DAV at VA facilities nationwide. The effort connects veterans with earned care and propels DAV to prominence as the most prolific volunteer network in the nation. The program grows significantly, providing more than 600,000 rides to veterans attending medical appointments every year.
1987 – Transportation Network launches

1987 – Winter sports clinic partnership begins

DAV partners with the VA to present the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic at Crested Butte, Colo. The event draws nearly 100 veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputations, visual impairments and other disabilities. The event, which empowers participants to challenge perceived limitations through adaptive sports, will later move to Snowmass (near Aspen).
1987 – Winter sports clinic partnership begins

1988 – Court of Veterans Appeals established

Congress creates the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, which has exclusive jurisdiction to provide independent oversight and review of final decisions of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. The newly established court is for veterans seeking to reverse a VA benefits decision. Recognizing its value, DAV continues to provide DAV national appeals officers and pro bono legal representation.
1988 – Court of Veterans Appeals established

1989 – Veterans Administration elevated to cabinet level

President Ronald Reagan elevates the VA to cabinet status and, on March 15, the Veterans Administration becomes the Department of Veterans Affairs. DAV and others had long stressed that the VA was the largest independent federal agency in terms of budget, second only to the Department of Defense in number of employees.
1989 – Veterans Administration elevated to cabinet level

1990 – The Persian Gulf War begins

In Operation Desert Storm, a coalition of 39 nations under American leadership drives enemy forces out of Kuwait, repelling Iraq’s invasion and annexation while overwhelming the Iraqi Army.
1990 – The Persian Gulf War begins

1991 – Agent Orange Act passed

The DAV-spearheaded Agent Orange Act ensures that veterans who served in Vietnam between 1962 and 1975 will automatically be presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange for certain illnesses and will qualify for VA disability and health benefits.
1991 – Agent Orange Act passed

1993 – Jesse Brown named VA secretary

Jesse Brown, a Marine Corps veteran and executive director at the DAV National Service & Legislative Headquarters, is named secretary of veterans affairs under President Bill Clinton. Brown joined DAV in 1967, eventually becoming its first African American executive director in 1988. He will serve a VA secretary until 1997.
1993 – Jesse Brown named VA secretary

1994 – Service Officer Academy established

To replenish the ranks of retiring advocates, the first class of 20 service officers completes a 16-week training course at the DAV National Service Officer Training Academy at the University of Colorado at Denver. Under then-VA Secretary Jesse Brown’s leadership, the VA vocational rehabilitation program supports attending veteran apprentices.
1994 – Service Officer Academy established

1994 – Gary Sinise awarded

Hollywood actor Gary Sinise receives the National Commander’s Award for his performance as Lt. Dan, a Vietnam veteran and double amputee, in the 1994 hit movie “Forrest Gump.” The award, in large part, begins Sinise’s longtime support of DAV and veterans.
1994 – Gary Sinise awarded

1996 – Eligibility reform introduced

The Veterans’ Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 greatly expands access to veteran health care by providing eligibility for outpatient care, leading to hundreds of new VA community-based outpatient clinics opening across the country.  The law permits veterans rated at 50% and higher to receive treatment for any health condition, and the VA moves to a primary and preventive care model, greatly increasing safety and quality.
1996 – Eligibility reform introduced

1996 – Women veterans summit held

DAV is the first major veterans service organization to co-host what will become a popular, reoccurring event that brings veterans from across the country together to collaborate on issues facing women veterans.
1996 – Women veterans summit held

1996 – Colorado Trust established

DAV Department of Colorado leads the charge to establish the Colorado Trust, through which chapters and state-level departments can share the wealth, allowing those with surplus funds to support service initiatives. Its name will eventually change to the Columbia Trust and expand to ensure DAV services and special programs are available nationwide.

2000 – Women veterans, POW/MIAs and homeless veterans events held

DAV joins with the White House and the VA in sponsoring the second national summit on women veterans issues in 2000. After, DAV sponsors the first national POW/MIA summit in Washington, D.C., to tackle issues surrounding Americans taken prisoner of war or listed as missing in action. DAV continues to fight homelessness among veterans through the DAV Charitable Service Trust as well as through local stand downs.
2000 – Women veterans, POW/MIAs and homeless veterans events held

2001 – America attacked

On Sept. 11, terrorists fly two planes into New York’s World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashes in Pennsylvania. In all, 2,996 were killed. The attack ushers in a new era of war, with American men and women volunteering to bring the fight to the enemy. American troops will continue to serve in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and other countries in support of the “War on Terror.”
2001 – America attacked

2001 – Mobile Service Office program established

DAV fields a fleet of mobile service offices to deliver benefits advocacy to rural and underserved veterans.
2001 – Mobile Service Office program established

2001 – Transition Service program established

DAV launches the Transition Service program, which deploys specially trained transition service officers at military separation centers.
2001 – Transition Service program established

2001 – Department and Chapter Service Officer training program established

Service Officers at the state and local level are trained and certified by DAV National Service Offices to advise, instruct and prepare veterans with claims for various benefits to which they may be entitled.
2001 – Department and Chapter Service Officer training program established

2003 – Youth scholarship renamed

DAV’s youth scholarship program, established in 2000, is renamed for DAV life member and former VA Secretary Jesse Brown. Since its inception, the Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship Program has awarded over $1,340,000 in scholarships to DAV youth volunteers.
2003 – Youth scholarship renamed

2006 – Case Management System created

DAV creates an electronic history of files that records DAV and VA actions through the adjudication process, helping to streamline its claims assistance process.

2007 – Burn pit hazards identified

DAV is first to bring attention to the hazards of burn pits with a registry and calls for research into exposures. In 2010, lawmakers will ban widespread burn pit use. In 2013, at DAV’s behest, Congress will mandate the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, and the 2018 defense-spending bill will require further burn pit exposure research.
2007 – Burn pit hazards identified

2008 – Stand Up for Veterans Campaign launched

DAV launches the award-winning Stand Up for Veterans advocacy and awareness campaign to improve care for ill and injured service members, particularly those returning from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, ultimately resulting in new legislation covering traumatic brain injury, mental health care, women veterans and caregivers.
2008 – Stand Up for Veterans Campaign launched

2008 – Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act passed

The Post-9/11 GI Bill expands educational benefits for those who served on and after Sept. 11, 2001. It also permits veterans to transfer their unused educational benefits to family members.

2009 – Advanced Appropriations signed

President Barack Obama signs legislation developed and championed by DAV that authorizes Congress to appropriate VA medical care funding one year in advance, thereby shielding veterans hospitals and clinics from disruptions caused by late budgets, continuing resolutions and government shutdowns. This landmark proposal will help end partisan budget battles and ensure the VA has sufficient, timely and predictable funding.

2010 – Caregiver program established

The VA launches its Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, which provides home health training, peer support and a modest financial stipend to caregivers of severely injured veterans, but only post-9/11 veterans are eligible. Citing the thousands of veterans seriously injured in previous eras, DAV will launch a fight to expand caregiver benefits to all generations of veterans.
2010 – Caregiver program established

2013 – Military combat roles open to women

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifts the ban on women in combat jobs in the U.S. military, opening every military occupation.
2013 – Military combat roles open to women

2014 – Employment program begins

Recognizing the value, talent and benefits veterans bring to the workforce, DAV launches a program, funded through the DAV Charitable Service Trust, committed to ensuring the men and women who serve America have all the tools, resources and opportunities available to competitively enter the job market and secure meaningful employment following service. In 2018, DAV would release The Veteran Advantage: DAV Guide to Hiring and Retaining Veterans with Disabilities, a comprehensive guide showing how hiring veterans can positively impact a company’s bottom line.
2014 – Employment program begins

2014 – American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedicated

DAV had advocated for a national memorial honoring America’s disabled veterans, paying tribute to all disabilities from all conflicts and military branches. Dedicated Oct. 5, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial stands in view of the U.S. Capitol.
2014 – American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial dedicated

2014 – Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home published

DAV comprehensive study Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home is published, detailing challenges women face when leaving military service. In 2018, the follow-up report Women Veterans: The Journey Ahead highlights legislative accomplishments while establishing a road map going forward.
2014 – Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home published

2014 – Operation: Keep the Promise

Following a government shutdown that impacted critical services for veterans, DAV hosts a rally in Washington, D.C., demanding expansion of advanced appropriations for veterans benefits and other VA discretionary accounts, which Congress approved at the end of the year.
2014 – Operation: Keep the Promise

2015 – Mentorship program

The DAV Charitable Service Trust partners with Boulder Crest Retreat Foundation in Bluemont, Va., to provide mentorship to ill and injured veterans with DAV members serving as mentors.
2015 – Mentorship program

2016 – iTRAK digital training established

The Interactive Training, Research, Advocacy and Knowledge system, known as iTRAK, makes the institutional knowledge of DAV’s National Service Officer Program accessible to benefits advocates nationwide. This state of the art system is funded through the DAV National Service Foundation.
2016 – iTRAK digital training established

2016 – DAV co-presents Veterans TEE Tournament

In 2016, DAV begins co-presenting the National Disabled Veterans TEE (Training, Experience, Exposure) Tournament, a weeklong adaptive golf program, together with the VA in Iowa City, Iowa.

2017 – Gender barriers broken

Army retiree Delphine Metcalf-Foster becomes the first woman to lead one of the three biggest veterans organizations when she’s elected DAV national commander. Craig Johniken, the first male DAV Auxiliary commander, is also elected at the 96th DAV and Auxiliary National Convention in New Orleans.
2017 – Gender barriers broken

2018 – Appeals modernization enacted

DAV spearheads a revamp of the benefits decision appeals process, improving notification of VA decisions, providing safeguards to ensure veterans receive the earliest effective date possible for their claim and giving veterans dissatisfied with the VA decision on their claims more options to seek higher review.

2018 – VA MISSION Act passed

The VA MISSION Act expands the caregiver support program to pre-9/11 veterans, streamlines and expands VA’s community care program, lowering veterans’ barriers to timely, high-quality health care.

2018 – Hiring guide published

Having identified that stereotypes and misinformation was a lead roadblock for underemployed and unemployed veterans, Veteran Advantage: DAV Guide to Hiring and Retaining Veterans with Disabilities is released to support employers, dispel myths and demonstrate the business case for bringing on those who’ve served.
2018 – Hiring guide published

2019 – Blue Water Navy Act passed

The Blue Water Navy Act grants presumptive status for benefits to tens of thousands of Navy veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange while serving in ships off the coast of Vietnam.
2019 – Blue Water Navy Act passed