When Department of Georgia Adjutant Wanda Daniels was called up on stage at her state’s convention last June, she had no idea what was going on. She had coordinated the entire convention, and this was not part of the plan.
Then her assistant adjutant, Doris Downer, began reading: “From the White House …”
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, what is this?’” recalled Daniels, a member of Chapter 92 in Jefferson.
She was surprised with the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her 4,000 hours of volunteering.
“We are living in a moment that calls for hope and light and love,” the president’s letter read. “Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another. Through your service, you are providing all three.”
Volunteering wasn’t something she’d always done. In fact, after Daniels retired from a 25-year career in the Air Force in 2005, she became less active. That changed in 2012, when she learned about DAV.
“It was like somebody just turned on a light for me, because I was just kind of sitting around the house,” she said.
Now Daniels travels all over the state helping out where she can. Every week, she makes the two-hour trek from her home in Winder to the department’s headquarters in Macon. In addition to handling her adjutant duties and responsibilities, she serves as a chapter benefits advocate and meets veterans there to help them process their Department of Veterans Affairs claims.
If veterans can’t make it to the office, Daniels will travel to wherever is most convenient for them.
“Taking care of someone else seems to brighten my day when I do that for them,” she said.
Daniels said she is proud to be involved in the work DAV does, especially with outreach. She’s run into many people who’ve served—women especially—who don’t realize their veteran status. She wants to make sure all who’ve worn the uniform understand and receive the benefits they’ve earned from their service to their country.
“Wanda epitomizes selfless service,” said National Voluntary Services Director John Kleindienst. “Her heart for and commitment to her fellow veterans is reflected in everything she does for DAV. Her recognition from the president is well deserved and hopefully serves as an inspiration to others to volunteer.”