Armed with education

posted on
DAV National Communications Director Dan Clare presents the Communications Seminar to a room full of convention attendees. Seminars provide members the tools and resources they need to implement best practices in their communities.

Convention digital seminars available online

You may have missed out on the entertainment of the Biggest Little City in the World, but if you weren’t able to take part in this year’s national convention in Reno, Nev., the valuable information shared is still available with a simple tap or click.

On Friday evening, before the official convention kickoff, author Dr. Steven Ross presented his research relating to his book “Hitler in Los Angeles,” which details how a group of DAV members infiltrated the American Nazi movement and thwarted attempts at arson, sabotage, murder and other subversive plots on American soil.

On Saturday, the Service and Legislative Seminar featured a discussion between Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Rep. Phil Roe and then-acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Peter O’Rourke. The forum was led by National Legislative Director Joy Ilem and National Service Director Jim Marszalek, who moderated the discussion that spanned many of the current issues surrounding veterans, including the VA MISSION Act of 2018, which was recently signed into law.

At the Membership Portal Training Seminar, National Membership Director Douglas K. Wells and membership business analyst Heather Colemire provided instruction and orientation on both the DAV membership system and membership portals. Training also covered the duties of a DAV chapter or department webmaster. Wells also conducted the Membership Seminar, in which he and members of the Interim Membership Committee discussed relevant topics such as recruiting techniques and incentives.

The Benefits Protection Team Seminar, led by Ilem, focused on the duties and responsibilities of Benefits Protection Team leaders. Included were tips on how to grow a local grassroots network and how to effectively use the Benefits Protection Team toolkit and other online resources.

Members receive interactive training on how to effectively use the membership system and portal.

The Women Veterans Seminar, hosted by Assistant National Legislative Director Shurhonda Love and National Voluntary Services Director John Kleindienst, involved a panel discussion on the partnership between DAV’s Voluntary Services Department and the work that Boulder Crest Retreat is doing in its PATHH (Progressive Alternative Training for Healing Heroes) program. Women veteran participants and panelists discussed how the Boulder Crest experience permanently changed their lives.

The Walgreens Emotional Well-Being Workshop was conducted by Travis Watson, director for Walgreens’ clinical programs. The workshop was designed to raise awareness of emotional well-being, reduce stigma, create understanding and point individuals toward available resources.

Kleindienst also provided a basic overview of the new voluntary services system,, at the Voluntary Services Seminar. Also covered were detailed instructions on how to report VA Voluntary Service Program, Transportation Network, service officer and Local Veterans Assistance Program hours to the Voluntary Services Department.

The POW/MIA Seminar, hosted by DAV POW/MIA Committee Chairman Vincent Darcangelo, included guest speakers from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency—Deputy Director Fern Sumpter Winbush and family and veteran liaison Stephen Thompson. The seminar addressed efforts to account for missing service members and reinforced DAV’s promise to never forget those taken prisoner, missing or unaccounted for—the brothers and sisters left behind—and their survivors.

Communications seminars covered efforts and available resources to assist veterans with getting the word out about DAV services. The seminars included electronic newsletter development, social media, magazine contributions, media relations support, toolkits and more to spread the word about DAV in the community.

National Employment Director Jeff Hall provided an overview of DAV’s employment program during the Employment Seminar. Attendees were provided up-to-date information on job fair activities, website tools and the road ahead. Participants gained a greater understanding of the many career paths and developmental programs available through the department’s mission, structure, reach and work. They were also briefed on The Veteran Advantage: DAV Guide to Hiring and Retaining Veterans with Disabilities, which is available at

National Chaplain Michael Dover discussed how to communicate with various generations of veterans and get them involved in local chapters during the Chaplains Seminar. A focal point was acknowledging that each generation of veterans possesses certain strengths, and understanding those strengths helps chaplains assist commanders in increasing membership and getting each generation actively involved in DAV’s mission.

The Inspector General and Fundraising Seminar provided current and real-world information on matters related to the day-to-day activities and operations of departments and chapters. Also discussed were key DAV fundraising initiatives that benefit departments and local chapters. The seminar was designed to help new leaders learn the basics of the organization’s National Constitution, Bylaws and National Executive Committee regulations from DAV Inspector General Ed Hartman and Chief Development Officer Brian Cowart.

“Once again, DAV and Auxiliary members have proven their thirst for knowledge and improvement is unrelenting,” said National Adjutant Marc Burgess. “DAV’s national convention provides opportunities for attendees to completely immerse themselves in the mission of DAV. We recognize that a small fraction of our members are able to attend the event. But we hope they will spread the information they learned to their chapters and use the online resources to benefit our mission nationwide.