VA Shuts Down; DAV Open for Business
When the Department of Veterans Affairs informed DAV that once the government shutdown went into a second week veterans, their families and survivors would not be allowed into federal buildings, we knew that meant our National Service Offices as well. So there was no question what we, as an organization, needed to do.
Being a good service officer requires a passion for those we serve and for what we do. There is no way we would allow the political antics in Washington to keep us from doing what we love. So when congressional discourse meant our nation’s wounded and ill veterans were going to be barred from entering the buildings in which we operate, I asked each of our offices across the country to create a contingency plan to enable service to continue, regardless of where we had to provide it. Within hours. fully developed plans from each of our 60 National Service Offices were complete and ready to implement.
As we know, October 1 came and went without a resolution to the shutdown, so the offices’ plans were put into motion. Led by our outstanding supervisors, about 50 of our offices moved to temporary locations. We were fortunate to be welcomed by Department Headquarters, Chapters, and VA medical centers. Others set up Mobile Service Offices and even tents in parking lots. There were a lot of moving parts that required our NSOs to apply their unparalleled knowledge of veterans’ needs and their ingenuity to accomplish the mission.
Our Chapter and Department Service Officers are also playing a key role in helping veterans get through this difficult time by providing claims and benefits counseling—as with all of DAV’s services, we continue to offer the best possible representation at no cost to our nation’s heroes. Perhaps what is now most important to veterans is the fact that we aren’t going to allow them to be left behind. Our NSOs are on duty. They understand the needs of their fellow veterans and are there to advocate on their behalf. That means more than ever when VA employees aren’t able to answer phones or accept walk-ins.
When the government could no longer meet its obligations to our injured and ill veterans, DAV stepped up and refused to be sidelined. I am proud of all involved and the organization as a whole.
The shutdown is still in place as I write this, meaning the fate of our veterans’ compensation and other benefits remains unknown. That’s a scary situation to the many who rely on that earned compensation to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. But everyone should share my complete confidence that our NSOs will remain on the job, working to do all they can to find and provide needed information and resources for those who have already sacrificed so much.
If you are in need of representation, contact a DAV NSO today. Our office addresses, both temporary and regular, are online at www.dav.org/veterans/find-your-local-office.
DAV members are urged to get involved through Social Networks such as Facebook (www.facebook.com/The.DAV) and Twitter (twitter.com/DAVHQ), where you can share your opinions and encourage others to voice their support for resolution to this issue. You can also join or encourage your fellow veterans to share their stories with lawmakers through DAV CAN (Commander’s Action Network) at capwiz.com/dav.