Retired Minnesota Army National Guard veteran Stephen Whitehead was unanimously elected national commander of the more than 1 million member DAV (Disabled American Veterans) today at the organization’s 98th National Convention in Orlando, Florida. Whitehead is the first post-9/11  veteran chosen to lead the organization and will lead the organization as it marks its centennial in 2020.

“As this great organization is set to turn 100-years-old, I couldn’t be prouder to be in a position to jumpstart DAV’s success for another century,” said Whitehead.

Whitehead enlisted at the age of 17 in 1991, serving two overseas tours in Iraq. In February of 2007, in Scania, Iraq, his base came under mortar attack and he sustained a mild traumatic brain injury. The Bronze Star recipient retired this year as Command Sergeant Major for the 84th Troop Command Brigade in the Minnesota Army National Guard, after 27 years of military service.

“Today wasn’t about me—today and the next year is all about our members and our fellow veterans all across this nation,” said Whitehead. “I am here to make sure all of their voices are heard and fight as hard as I can to protect their benefits and fight for legislation that positions all veterans in the best situation possible.

Whitehead joined DAV and was elected to lead as adjutant of the organization’s Department of Minnesota in 2012. He currently serves as executive director of the Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota Foundation, and has been instrumental in the creation of the department’s outdoor program, which offers provides therapeutic out-of-doors recreational events for veterans with varying disabilities. Whitehead has also placed focus on new veterans and those still serving, and spent time in Kuwait this Memorial Day serving meals to the troops.

“We’re seeing more veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan taking on leadership roles within DAV and serving as a bridge across generations, between those who served decades ago, those who served more recently and those still in uniform,” said DAV CEO Marc Burgess. “Commander Whitehead is well poised to lead the organization on the unique issues that impact veterans of all eras.”

Photos and media may be made available upon request.


About DAV:

DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; providing employment resources to veterans and their spouses; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a nonprofit organization with more than 1 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U. S. Congress in 1932.