Thanking our nation’s veterans, together

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UFC fighters with DAV members Centra “Ce-Ce” Mazyck, Danny Soto and Oscar Olguin at the Nevada State Veterans Memorial in Las Vegas.

DAV, partners work together on Veterans Day to champion and support those who served

From community events to national campaigns, DAV leaders spent Veterans Day reminding those who served that they have a network of advocates on their side and calling on the public to join the fight.

“I’m here today to tell you that just because you may no longer wear the uniform doesn’t mean you’re alone,” Army veteran and Past National Commander Delphine Metcalf-Foster said during the annual Veterans Wellness Watch in Oakland, California.

The event, hosted by the Veterans Community Media Network during Veterans Day week, introduces homeless veterans to service organizations that can help them with everything from health care to housing. Members of DAV Chapter 7 in Oakland attended the event to assist veterans.

On a single night in January 2020, around 40,000 veterans were found to be homeless, according to an annual report released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in March. Nationally, DAV’s Charitable Service Trust provided more than $775,000 for programs serving homeless or at-risk veterans in 2020, and DAV hosts a Homeless Veterans Stand Down each year to connect those in need with crucial resources.

“So whether it’s by helping you get the VA benefits you’ve earned, helping you find a job, assisting you with a day-to-day need or connecting you with another local organization, I want you to know that DAV is committed to keeping our promise to you to help you live a fulfilling life after your military career ends,” said Metcalf-Foster.

DAV extended that same message to thousands of others through its partnerships with giants such as UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).

Leading up to Veterans Day, UFC greats such as Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin spent time with disabled veterans, including DAV members Centra “Ce-Ce” Mazyck, Danny Soto and Oscar Olguin. They met at the Nevada State Veterans Memorial in Las Vegas and swapped stories of hardship, sacrifice and persistence.

“When I get in the cage and fight, I know who I’m fighting for—I’m fighting for myself, for my family,” said UFC fighter Cody Stamann. “These people are going out and they’re fighting for me, for my opportunity to chase my dream. I feel fortunate just to be around these people, just to get an opportunity to talk to them.”

UFC shared a video featuring the meeting and the stories of DAV members across their social media platforms and website on Veterans Day. DAV also co-presented the fighter walkout at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 6. DAV members in the audience were acknowledged and given a VIP experience that included a photoshoot in the Octagon.

“It’s just an incredible experience to see they care enough to spend some time to talk to these men and women and to take our story to the American public,” said National Communications Director and Marine Corps veteran Rob Lewis.

Other partners once again stepped up to give back to veterans and support DAV’s mission through fundraisers. Since 2001, Golden Corral has hosted a National Military Appreciation Night, offering free meals to veterans and active-duty service members. The event also gives DAV members the opportunity to raise money and awareness of the organization. Over the past 20 years, the tradition has helped raise nearly $17 million in donations for DAV.

EG America and its over 1,700 convenience stores held a nationwide campaign throughout the month of November to raise money for DAV. Since partnering with DAV in 2019, EG America has raised over $2 million for the organization. California Pizza Kitchen also held a fundraiser for DAV, which ran Nov. 8–10. During that time, the restaurant donated 20% of food and beverage sales to DAV when guests mentioned the organization.

“DAV’s generous corporate partners make possible the critical work of supporting our wounded veterans for generations to come,” said National Adjutant Marc Burgess. “By raising awareness and resources, they call on all Americans to help keep our promise to those who served in uniform.

“We also thank our nation’s veterans—our brothers and sisters,” he added. “Their continued service to our communities and support of DAV empowers fellow veterans and inspires others to lend a helping hand.”