Texas DAV members spring into action to combat pandemic in community

As COVID-19 cases were climbing around the country at the end of summer 2021, a DAV chapter in Texas partnered with their local health department to offer COVID-19 vaccinations.

DAV Chapter 114 in Helotes provided nearly 100 shots to area veterans, their families and community members over two days in August and September. Luis Cortes, the chapter commander, said that the event was a success and important to veterans and their families in the San Antonio area.

“Our chapter is always quite active,” said Cortes. “So I presented it to our members and we decided, yes, we’re going to go forward and do this clinic.”

The event was made possible by partnering with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, which provided both the vaccine and nurses to administer it. Cortes said the clinic was a more convenient way to offer vaccination to those who wanted to be inoculated against COVID-19 but had difficulty traveling to where vaccines were delivered.

“Either they didn’t have transportation or couldn’t stand in the humongous line,” added Cortes. “So it was better for them to come to our facility to be able to get the shots.”

Volunteers were crucial for the event’s success, according to chapter leadership. Cortes’ daughter, Kayla Cortes, a local college student, was one of the dozen people who volunteered their time to help their community.

But volunteering with DAV is nothing new for Kayla, who has participated in DAV Forget-Me-Not campaigns and helped out during chapter meetings.

“I grew up volunteering with DAV basically my whole life,” she said.

She added that the clinic was a way to bring in veterans unaware of the range of services and support DAV provides to veterans of all eras.

“My dad gave them all of the information as to what DAV does, telling them to come to the new [chapter] building to get their claims done there,” said Kayla.

Edward Salinas, the chapter’s first junior vice commander, said the community reaction was overwhelmingly positive.

“A lot of people were very excited about the clinic, and they were happy that it was at this location,” said Salinas. “They didn’t have to go far.”

Chapter Adjutant Noraliz Maysonet-Carvajal not only helped to support the logistics of the clinic but also received both vaccine doses during the event.

“I was apprehensive,” she said. “But when you’re around people you see that this is for the betterment of the community, that made me feel more at ease.”

Vaccination remains the best defense against COVID-19 infection, severe illness and death. Both Cortes and Maysonet-Carvajal said they are discussing another clinic for boosters.