Focusing on caregivers

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I wish all of our DAV and DAV Auxiliary members a very happy, prosperous 2017.

We’ve elected a new president and have much work to do, as an organization, to ensure critical legislation affecting veterans and their families moves forward.

Something very important to me, and to many who care for veterans, is the Veterans First Act (S.2921). This bill expands caregiver benefits to all generations of veterans.

In 2010, DAV enthusiastically supported legislation that provided assistance for caregivers of seriously ill or injured post-9/11 veterans in the hope it would begin the conversation about providing support for caregivers of all eras.

Today, we still fight for equitable benefits, and I ask DAV Auxiliary members to stand with DAV in this and other legislative issues. DAV National Commander Dave Riley and his wife Yvonne, who is also his caregiver, have personal experience with this issue just as many of us do. Yvonne is an Auxiliary member who, like many, gives selflessly to ensure her veteran is able to lead a meaningful life. If she weren’t able to do so, not only would it severely diminish her husband’s quality of life, it would put a tremendous burden on the government and taxpayers as well.

Sadly, though Yvonne never complains, the needs of a veteran and the demands on a caregiver do not become easier with time and age—quite the opposite.

No one knows better than us that when military service changes someone, the entire family changes. The very least our country should do is recognize the sacrifices of the caregivers of our most profoundly disabled veterans. It’s simply the right thing to do.

As we move forward into a new calendar year, I pledge to all of you that I will do the very best I can to honor your faith and trust in my ability to lead this organization. I intend to always act as a member first, not just as our organization’s commander.

We need to echo and reinforce the voice of our veterans, but we cannot do this alone. When it comes to recruiting and legislative issues, being a proactive DAV Auxiliary member will strengthen our service to disabled veterans and their families.

I encourage all DAV Auxiliary members to continue generating and listening to one another’s ideas as we look forward to a very successful year in our units. We will continue with our theme of unity, because if we do not have passion in our hearts, our hands cannot do the work and fulfill our goals in moving DAV and DAV Auxiliary forward. We have a lot of “heart” work to do, and I promise to be right in step with all of you.