DAV connects with veterans, communities with sports jerseys, drone racing

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Having one interaction with a veteran can be easy, but getting that veteran to keep coming back to DAV and join as a member is a challenge that requires a constant willingness to reevaluate.

Figure out what younger veterans are interested in locally, and then offer them a way to help their fellow veterans through their unique talents and abilities.

For example, Chapter 12 in Victorville, California, uses drone pilot training as a way to engage with younger veterans. A barbecue or other family-friendly activity can work well, too. Remember, the veteran community is a multifaceted group with many varied interests—and many younger veterans today live busy family lives. It is up to all of us to find ways to connect with them.

Don’t say no to something too quickly. Consider veterans who need help with benefits or care as opportunities for engagement to build positive relationships. Go the extra mile for them.

In Green Bay, Department of Wisconsin Commander Matt Kempainen works to directly connect veterans who need assistance with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He networks with other local organizations so he can lead veterans directly to the assistance they need.

The effect has been more new DAV members, but it’s also a way for Kempainen to find healing. The Army veteran who served in Iraq said he stays busy volunteering with DAV as a way of battling his own post-traumatic stress disorder.

An avid football fan, he began auctioning off a few player-autographed footballs. The sports outreach has now grown to annual jersey auction nights for multiple local teams, including hockey, and often features military-themed, player-worn jerseys on the block. This gives DAV an opportunity for outreach and fundraising to support local veterans.

Public attention, and raising community awareness for DAV’s programs and services, helps draw in prospective members, Kempainen said.

In Layton, Utah, Chapter 14 regularly sets up a table at Golden Corral restaurants to talk to veterans and the public. They raise money to send children in military families to Camp Corral. Department of Utah Commander Jerry Estes works the tables. He asks veterans if they need help with claims assistance and follows up personally with them. Estes’ efforts have resulted in new members for multiple chapters in Utah.

In Silver City, New Mexico, Chapter 1 works with a local organization to deliver patriotic blankets directly to veterans who are referred by word of mouth. Showing someone you care and remember them, especially when they didn’t ask for anything, can go a long way toward bringing a new veteran into the DAV family.

Lastly, remember that nothing beats checking in with your fellow veteran to strengthen the ranks of DAV.

Use membership department hotlists to find prospective members in your local ZIP code. Tell them about DAV’s all-volunteer Transportation Network that takes veterans to medical appointments. Show them there is strength in numbers as we work to fulfill our nation’s promise to veterans by helping them receive the benefits and assistance they’ve earned.

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