Delphine Metcalf-Foster, National Commander

Stronger together

It is hard to believe that this is my last commentary as commander of our wonderful organization. Serving at the helm of DAV this past year has been one of the greatest honors of my life.

While I, of course, need to thank Chapter 21 in Vallejo, the Department of California and the wonderful staff at headquarters for their unmatched support, there is another group of people I must recognize for making this past year possible. It is each and every one of you—the more than 1 million members who represent various ages, eras of service, types of illness or injury, and gender. DAV members come from all walks of life, and that diversity plays no small part in our success.

When I was elected to serve as your commander, I broke a glass ceiling as the first woman, as well as African-American female, to lead one of the three largest veterans service organizations. I was honored to hold a position that illustrates what DAV already knows: The ability to lead doesn’t require a certain gender or race.

As I’ve said before, I joined the Army after I’d already started a family. My daughter protested my plans and told me I’d embarrass myself. I challenged her to join me at boot camp. She lasted two weeks, and I made it more than two decades!

One day in boot camp sticks out vividly. A drill sergeant called me into his office. I initially believed I had done something wrong and braced myself for pushups. Imagine my surprise when I learned that I was being sought out for advice regarding our platoon.

Despite not yet being a full-fledged soldier, the drill sergeant wanted my guidance because of my age and life experience. Years later, I have seen this play out at DAV. I believe that I have been able to serve my fellow veterans by providing insight based upon my unique life journey. What is important to note, though, is that it isn’t solely my background and experience that have made me a successful advocate for the men and women who served.

Everything that our beloved organization has accomplished in the past year would not be possible without each and every one of you and the unique perspectives you bring to our ranks.

Whether it was advocating for a strong VA or fighting for expanded caregiver benefits, over the past year, you never wavered in support of the men and women who served. That tenacious fighting spirit will continue to serve veterans long after we depart Reno, Nev., and a new leader takes the reins of our great organization. While my tenure may be coming to an end, I have no doubt DAV will continue to excel in serving veterans. After all, it isn’t about me. It is about us working together to complete the mission, as we have for nearly 100 more.

 

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