J. Marc Burgess, National Adjutant

Brotherhood and sisterhood

Author Peter E. Terzick wrote, “You cannot see brotherhood; neither can you hear it nor taste it. But you can feel it a hundred times a day. It is the pat on the back when things look gloomy. It is the smile of encouragement when the way seems hard. It is the helping hand when the burden becomes unbearable.”

Brotherhood and sisterhood are the cornerstones of DAV’s membership. When servicemen and women leave the military, there are many chances for us to create a bridge for them through our local chapters and departments. Opportunities abound to improve the quality of life and the sense of belonging veterans feel within our community as they transition into civilian life.

Though entirely unrelated to DAV, the recent revelation that tens of thousands of active-duty military men and veterans have been disparaging and harassing servicewomen and female veterans through online forums is contrary to the notion of brotherhood and camaraderie that our values demand. These actions are shameful and have no place in the military or veteran communities.

This kind of behavior can be what dissuades many women from continuing successful careers in the military. It can make women doubt their status as veterans, despite their many valuable contributions in service. And it can be a major factor in why many women veterans do not seek the benefits and health care they earned and need in order to address their service-connected conditions.

DAV’s 2014 report, Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home, states, “When women talk about their military service, a large number will report that they feel invisible, that their ‘non-combat’ role was less valued than those of the men who served and that they do not identify themselves as veterans.”

Additionally, the DAV Veterans Pulse Survey noted 56 percent—more than half—of women veterans do not believe they receive the same respect and appreciation as their male counterparts. Only 34 percent of male veterans feel that women don’t get the same respect. It’s clear from the aforementioned
incident that this gap is significant and real and must be addressed.

Author Jolene Perry wrote that “brothers don’t let each other wander in the dark alone.” This, of course, also applies to our sisters.

I thank those among us who have gone above and beyond to welcome our women warriors and created robust veterans programs to support them within their chapters and departments. I encourage others to do the same.

As an organization of veterans helping veterans, it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to create a welcoming environment to all those who served,
regardless of their gender, job, military branch or service era, as we are all bonded together through our service to this great nation.

 

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