J. Marc Burgess, National Adjutant
Stay focused, stay flexible
It’s difficult to believe that we have, as a nation and as a global community, been battling against the COVID-19 pandemic for well over a year. So much has changed in that time—how we live, interact, receive medical care and even do the most basic of activities like shop for our groceries or talk to our loved ones.
What amazes me most, though, is how we haven’t changed. DAV, throughout our ranks, has stayed the course this past year and continued to adapt and serve veterans in new and resourceful ways.
As an example, despite the pandemic, in 2020, DAV-represented claimants received more than $23 billion in earned benefits. Additionally, our national service officers have fielded more than 160,000 claimant calls through our toll-free hotline since offices were closed to foot traffic at the onset of the outbreak.
The DAV Transportation Network was hard hit by COVID-19, as many higher-risk volunteers were unable to assist and some VA facilities temporarily discontinued volunteer programs. Your amazing volunteers still logged close to 10 million miles, and in a typical year, DAV provides more than 625,000 no-cost rides for ill and injured veterans to VA medical facilities.
Our members have pulled out the stops and ramped up their creativity to safely engage each other throughout the past year, continuing to drive member recruiting and—most importantly—stay connected with fellow veterans during this period of isolation.
Our COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Fund issued more than $2 million in aid to veterans who lost employment or income due to the pandemic. And our career fairs mostly went virtual, totaling 92 events in 2020 with more than 32,000 active-duty service members, Guard and Reserve personnel, and spouses attending.
And our dedicated grassroots members have continued to beat the drum, holding virtual meetings with lawmakers and inspiring successful legislative pushes to the benefit of disabled veterans.
At the heart of all this, I’m proud to say, is a distinct dedication to veterans unlike anything I’ve seen before. This is what “veterans serving veterans” looks like—when, how and where they need it most.
Thank you all for staying motivated and focused in the name of our brothers and sisters.
If you want to find out more about the National Adjutant, you can find his biography here.