Joe Parsetich, Commander

It’s all about family

Several Christmases ago, my wife and son gave me a couple of those DNA collection kits you see advertised on television. With this gift, I could learn more about my roots. I knew I had been adopted as a baby from a Catholic Charities orphanage in Chicago, but my parents had kept many of the other details from me.

I was shocked when the results came back. First, I learned my birth parents were Puerto Rican, a surprise to someone who was told his whole life he was Italian. It turns out that was a fabrication by my adoptive parents to protect me from racial prejudices present in Chicago during my youth. I also learned I had five brothers, a sister, 250 first and second cousins, and more than a thousand third and fourth cousins. And, although my biological mother passed away years ago, I was able to meet my biological father, who is now 95. I was welcomed into a wonderful culture and family I never knew I had. And it feels great.

That’s how I feel about DAV. Until I received help with my VA claim and attended my first chapter meeting in 2009, I didn’t know anything about the organization. But I quickly discovered it’s a welcoming family of fellow disabled veterans. We’re all from different backgrounds, branches and eras, but we’re bound together by a common thread.

As we all know, keeping a family together requires everyone’s effort. I certainly didn’t join DAV to just be a member. I came to help. Because before I was even a member, DAV was there for me as I began facing the issues haunting me from my time at Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon during the aftermath of the Tet Offensive in 1968. It’s an honor to give back to this organization that has done so much for me.

I have a diverse employment background, from being a police officer to training exotic animals to hosting a veterans-focused show on public radio in Great Falls, Montana. These experiences have given me countless stories to share, but more importantly, they’ve provided me with the ability to relate to lots of different people. It’s been a joy to connect with others and point them to DAV, the Auxiliary and the work we do.

Through that work, our organizations have a renewed energy. We’re reconnecting with our roots of proactive volunteer service. To me, there’s no better feeling than helping fellow veterans and their families.

When we nurture this feeling, more veterans will know how much we care about them.

The work we do in our areas is also attractive to younger veterans and others in the military community, many of whom are looking to join an organization that’s focused on service.

We should all be proud of how we provide ill and injured veterans and their families the ability to live life with respect and dignity. It’s an incredible honor to take the reins as your national commander, and I look forward to continuing to serve alongside you in this pursuit.

 

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