30-year ‘bling’

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Tori Joyner, DAV’s first female NSO to reach the 30-year milestone, joined the Army in 1981 and served until 1984.

Army veteran becomes first woman to reach three decades as a DAV national service officer

The demographics of the military have been changing for decades—slowly at first and then at an increasingly rapid pace. Women now make up 14% of the military and roughly 10% of the veteran population.

At DAV, too, the landscape has seen a dramatic increase in women, both among members and the corps of national and transition service officers. And in July, Senior National Appeals Officer Tori Joyner marked a major longevity milestone, becoming the first woman veteran to reach 30 years of service as a DAV national service officer.

“We’re really proud to see Tori hit the 30-year mark, but more importantly, we’re just proud of the incredible work she’s done for veterans over the full span of her career thus far with DAV,” said National Service Director Jim Marszalek. “With more than three decades with the organization under her belt, she is truly an expert in the process and has demonstrated that time and time again for the veterans she serves.”

Joyner, an Army veteran, has spent 37 years in total with DAV, starting out as a receptionist at the national service office in Washington, D.C., in 1984. Seven years later, her supervisor offered her an opportunity to tackle the 16-month on-the-job training and begin helping veterans in a new role: national service officer.

“I am proud and honored to be a trailblazer to lead women in the DAV both current and future to achieve or exceed 30 years of service in this great organization,” said Joyner. “I want to challenge each and every woman in the DAV to meet or exceed my time and expand the ring club.”

“DAV has been a part of my life pretty much all of my adult life, since I left the military,” said Joyner, who was awarded the traditional milestone national service officer’s ring—her 30-year “bling”—at this year’s national convention in Tampa, Florida.

“This means a lot to me,” said Joyner. “I’ve worked very hard to achieve this level of recognition. All the conventions I’ve gone to, all the men get emotional when they accept this ring. And I always wondered what that would feel like, and it’s overwhelming right now.”

Joyner is part of an important evolution. She has watched DAV change over time, with more and more women taking on leadership roles, carving out important milestones and often becoming the face of the organization.

“To be the first woman to be in this situation is like a whirlwind,” said Joyner. “It’s a feeling of accomplishment beyond what I would have thought when I first became a national service officer.”

Logging nearly 40 years with DAV, Joyner said it feels like “just yesterday” that she started the career that helped her give as much to others as she got in return.

“One thing that DAV has taught me is to fight, and I will continue to fight for our veterans,” Joyner said. “That never leaves you; it’s part of you.”