In-person advocacy

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Joy J. Ilem | National Legislative Director

It’s no surprise that, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans nationwide have had to lean more heavily on modern technology. From holiday gatherings to medical appointments, nearly every corner of society has had to pivot to a more virtual environment—and for good reasons. Keeping everyone safe while continuing to live our lives and remaining socially connected has been paramount.

The country is inching toward an eagerly anticipated return to normal, and we know that technology, while beneficial, can never replace the unique impact of holding face-to-face meetings with our elected officials. That’s why we at DAV are thrilled to once again hold our annual mid-winter conference in person.

After thoughtful reflection and weighing all of the options, I’m delighted to see this important advocacy conference take place from Feb. 27 to March 2 in Arlington, Virginia—just outside Washington, D.C.

This has always been a special event, but even more so in 2022. It will mark the first time in two years DAV’s members and advocates will travel to our nation’s capital to strengthen and protect the very benefits veterans have earned in service to us all. We will hold all of our regular workshops featuring updates from our service, legislative, communications, membership and employment teams.

Although it’s impossible to rule out any uncertainty, we’re ready and hopeful that participants will get the chance to meet directly with their elected officials and support National Commander Andy Marshall during his testimony before a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees.

Congress continues to work on several issues related to DAV’s critical policy goals. While it was heartening to see the Department of Veterans Affairs implement the first presumptive conditions for burn pit exposure—chronic asthma, rhinitis and sinusitis—we know that our work on this issue is far from done. Ensuring additional benefits for burn pits and other toxic exposures, enhanced survivor benefits, and improved services for women and minority veterans; reinforcing mental health and suicide prevention programs; expanding access and options to meet veterans’ long-term care needs; and strengthening the VA’s health care infrastructure are all on the table this session of Congress.

It’s perhaps more important than ever, as veterans, to stand and support one another. In short, it allows our collective voice to be heard. Our annual mid-winter conference helps DAV to advance meaningful legislation improving the lives of veterans, their families and caregivers every year. A sacred pillar of our democracy is the ability to have a say in how we care for our nation’s ill and injured veterans. I hope you will join us in Washington in February to continue that fight. With a full contingent of DAV members attending this time-honored tradition, I have no doubt that this year’s mid-winter conference will be one for the books.