J. Marc Burgess, National Adjutant

Take care of yourself, and each other

DAV was founded in the wake of the 1918 Spanish Flu, which infected more than a third of the global population and killed an estimated 50 million during the outbreak. A century later, we are battling another pandemic—one that has radically altered our lives and plans.

The world has changed drastically in the past few months, and each of us has changed along with it. The outbreak of COVID-19 sent our nation into crisis, claiming lives and putting Americans through a terrifying ordeal.

The disease has rolled through the country like nothing in recent memory, heightening anxiety, fear and isolation—not to mention unemployment and economic uncertainty. We have all been living on edge for months, afraid of making choices that could potentially do devastating harm to ourselves, our families, our friends and our neighbors.

As we begin to emerge from this crisis, I urge you to remember one thing: Your mental health matters, now and always.

So many veterans have already lived through traumatic, life-altering events, and we know those traumas are not so easily forgotten. For some, those events remain with them for a lifetime. None of us are likely to forget what this crisis has wrought for us. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one or battled the virus yourself. Maybe you were forced to close your business, lost your job or suffered another major financial loss. It could be that you’ve been strained by the isolation, you were unable to get the care you needed, or your edges have simply frayed from the incredible amount of stress we’ve all been under. Every storm leaves wreckage in its wake, and this one is no different.

No matter the case, your mental health is critical. Be kind to yourself, and if you feel you are in need of help, please take the time to get it. Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. Make an appointment at your local VA Vet Center or talk to your physician. Reach out to a friend. Ask for help.

I’m exceptionally proud of the work of our members, volunteers and staff during this time. My sincere thanks go out to you—most especially to the entire medical community, the first responders and the incredible staff at VA medical centers across the nation for their absolutely tireless dedication to treating patients and rising to this occasion, far beyond what any of us could have envisioned.

Your exceptional and creative efforts to continue caring for one another were beacons of hope in foreboding seas. We know that we are not out of the woods yet, but you have led the way through these dark times as examples of strength, compassion and fortitude for us all to emulate as we move forward together and begin to restore the nation.


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