Together again

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Annual gathering of state leaders held one last time at Cold Spring

The old adage about great leaders being made, not born, implies a need for an ongoing commitment to sharing, renewal and education among those whose decisions and influence will be key to mission success.

Those three commitments are the cornerstones upon which the annual Commanders and Adjutants Association orientation was built. This year’s event—which took place June 28–29 and included dozens of state-level leaders from around the country—was the 23rd time the gathering was held and the final time at DAV’s previous national headquarters building in Cold Spring, Kentucky.

The format of the event was simple: two days of intense education about DAV’s many evolving services through presentations from DAV’s national staff interspersed with opportunities for the leaders to exchange their best practices with one another in less-formal gatherings. The event is scheduled in early summer to welcome and educate newly elected commanders and newly appointed leaders in other positions.

The gathering was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, which meant the one-year term of Commanders and Adjutants Association President John Donovan of Arkansas was extended to two years.

“It was an incredible time and a real networking opportunity for DAV’s state leaders,” Donovan said. “We reduced the event by a day and squeezed everything into a day and a half, but we learned just as much as ever.”

Sessions were structured to help answer questions about the myriad organizational functions.

While the information provided at these annual events by both national- and state-level leaders is critical for all attendees, it is especially important for those leaders who are newer to DAV and don’t have the depth of experience of many of the hosts and attendees.

“It was a blessing to get this opportunity because this is my first year as the department adjutant,” said Adjutant Charise Washington of the Department of Nevada, who was appointed to her leadership role in March. “I learned new techniques for newsletters and increasing attendance at our events. There was just so much useful information.”

The Commanders and Adjutants Association orientation is yet another example of the strength of DAV resting in the dynamic balance between the capable and effective leaders dispersed throughout the country and the unifying vision and strategies presented by the national organization.

“It is crucial that DAV leaders at every level are familiar with the organization’s core mission and essential functions,” said National Headquarters Executive Director Barry Jesinoski.  “We hope they are able to take back the mountain of information we have shared here and implement it at the state and local levels. While we realize much of this information is new to some of these leaders—especially the newer ones—it’s critical that we are rowing in the same direction, using the same language and working toward the same goals at all levels of DAV.”

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