Stephen “Butch” Whitehead, Commander
Rolling with the punches
From the COVID-19 pandemic to record unemployment rates to nationwide social unrest, many would agree that 2020 has been a year full of incredible challenges and unknowns. Add in the fact we’re in the midst of a presidential election season, and it’s easy to see that this is a pivotal year for current and future generations.
Considering all the trials we’re facing as a nation, one could easily falter. But as veterans, we understand that the key to success under pressure is adaptability, and peak performance is required when the stakes are the highest.
When COVID-19 necessitated the closure of our offices to in-person traffic, DAV immediately set up a nationwide call system to allow our national service officers and employees to work from home to triage disability claims and provide normal benefits services uninterrupted to those in need.
When veterans began losing jobs or income as a result of the pandemic, we established a COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Fund to assist them to pay bills, obtain food and provide for their families. We also moved the balance of this year’s 125 in-person job fairs to virtual events in order to provide veterans the opportunity to continue seeking gainful and meaningful employment in the midst of the nationwide crisis.
And when we were forced to cancel the 2020 DAV and Auxiliary National Convention for the safety and well-being of our members, their families, guests and employees, our teams stepped up to the plate to provide a virtual event that brought in some of the major traditional elements of a normal convention, such as DAV’s 2019–2020 Year in Review and recognition of our Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year.
These are just a few of the shining examples of DAV’s dedication to the veterans we serve, and I’m immeasurably proud to be part of an organization that has responded the way we have in the face of adversity. I humbly ask that, in the months to come, you bear in mind that complacency is incredibly dangerous. It’s exceedingly important that we not spike the football just yet, as there is more work to be done on behalf of our brothers- and sisters-in-arms.
I also ask you to amplify your voice this election season to ensure veterans issues are elevated to the level they deserve. Keep in mind, though, that DAV is a nonpartisan veterans service organization with legislative goals that focus on wartime-disabled veterans, their families and survivors. Please remember these bounds in the course of your personal political advocacy. You can go to DAV.org to find out more information about the do’s and don’ts of election-year advocacy.
It has been a trying year for our country, but I remain fully confident that, through the unwavering dedication and civic leadership of veterans like you, we will emerge a stronger nation on the other side.
If you want to find out more about the National Commander, you can find his biography here.