When military service members transition from combat to civilian life, they require ongoing support to help them manage the transition and put their lives back together after dedicating themselves for years to protecting others. Many require extensive physical and emotional rehabilitation, as well as assistance in coping with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. They and their families may need counseling, financial assistance, help to further their education, or simply a ride to the doctor’s office. A number of groups provide such assistance to veterans and advocate on their behalf.
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) aims to fight for the interests of men and women whose sacrifices have made the country strong and safe. The organization offers assistance to veterans with disabilities from all generations, touching the lives of more than 1 million people every year.
A nonprofit organization, DAV is dedicated to empowering veterans with disabilities to make positive changes in their lives so that they can continue to enjoy the dignity, respect, and successes in life that they have rightfully earned.
Following are a few points describing how the DAV’s services seek to make life easier and better for former military members and their loved ones.
1. Securing benefits
Over 300,000 veterans witness their claims for the benefits they have earned—from the Department of Veterans Affairs or other agencies—go through more smoothly with free help from the DAV. In fact, in one recent year alone, the group assisted in delivering over $4 billion in both new and past-due benefits to veterans with disabilities who have counted on their country to be there for them, as well as their families and other surviving loved ones.
2. Providing vital transportation
Almost three-quarters-of-a-million veterans annually are able to keep their doctors’ appointments due to free rides provided to and from medical offices by the DAV .
3. Offering a fresh financial start
Veterans have also relied on the DAV to help them obtain jobs so that they can support themselves and their families. DAV career fairs and networking opportunities can help to connect veterans with long-term civilian employment, and DAV resources can provide additional assistance. The DAV schedule for the first three months of 2017 alone features more than 20 career fairs across the country, as well as a virtual job fair.
4. Making connections through strength
Since it began as a U.S. Congress-chartered organization in the days after World War I, the now nearly 100-year-old DAV has helped generations of veterans with disabilities to endure tough times at home. The group’s longevity is part of its strength, as are its numbers. The DAV has more than 1 million members who contribute to well over 1,000 local chapters nationwide. This powerful presence translates into the financial capital, expertise, and support that can lead to results on behalf of those veterans whom it serves.
5. Giving hope to homeless veterans
Through its Homeless Veterans Initiative, the DAV sponsors the construction of affordable and supportive housing for homeless veterans, as well as the services they need to fully participate in the larger society. The initiative, which operates under the aegis of the Charitable Service Trust and the Columbia Trust of the DAV, works with the goal of facilitating sustainable collaborations with government agencies at all levels.
6. Speaking out
DAV leaders and members represent the interests of the national community of veterans with disabilities by speaking in front of Congress, the court system, and the executive branch. In addition to their work on the federal level, DAV members address the concerns of veterans by speaking with local and state lawmakers and agencies.
7. Opening up volunteer opportunities
The DAV understands that one of the keys to successfully re-entering civilian life for veterans involves the ability to connect with and give back to their communities. For this reason, the organization offers opportunities for veterans to volunteer on behalf of other veterans.
8. Reaching out through education
As part of its public service mission, the DAV regularly conducts outreach efforts to keep members, as well as the American people, informed about the issues that it supports. In addition to outreach efforts, the group posts news updates of interest to veterans with disabilities on its website. Topics covered include current legislative efforts on behalf of veterans, physical and mental health issues—such as Gulf War-related illnesses and PTSD—affecting service members, and developing information about employment and government programs
9. Helping out in times of disaster
The DAV also provides special grant funding to help veterans with disabilities and their families in cases of natural disasters. DAV disaster relief funds can provide for emergency housing, clothing, meals, and other necessities when veterans’ needs are not met through existing insurance policies or other aid programs. Over the course of nearly 50 years, the DAV has distributed more than $8.5 million in relief grant funding to veterans affected by natural disasters.
To find out more about the DAV and the services it offers to disabled veterans, to volunteer, or make a contribution, visit www.dav.org.