For nearly a century, it has been the DAV’s mission to ensure that disabled veterans
receive all benefits they have earned and that the American people understand and
respect the needs these veterans encounter as a result of their disabilities. It
is a mission that the members of this great organization strive to fulfill every
The concept of serving those who have served our country has long been part of our
Nation’s consciousness. Recognition of that responsibility follows the standard
enacted by the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1636 which provided that any soldier who
should return maimed from the defense of the settlers should be maintained by the
colony for the rest of his life. President Lincoln reaffirmed this moral obligation
to “care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.”
In 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed Executive Order 5398 which consolidated
the U.S. Veterans’ Bureau, the National Homes for Disabled Soldiers and the Bureau
of Pensions into the new Veterans Administration (VA). In 1989, the VA was elevated
to a Cabinet-level agency and became the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Over the years, much beneficial veterans’ legislation has been enacted, and many
legislative initiatives and other actions that would have been detrimental to veterans
and their families have also been defeated.
More recently, millions of men and women have been called to serve in the Afghanistan
and Iraq wars and again the moral obligation to care for those who willingly step
in harm’s way is being exercised. The men and women of our Reserves and National
Guard are being asked to serve in a nontraditional manner, yet they fulfill the
demand made upon them without hesitation.
Yet, the struggle to protect and enhance programs and services created to rehabilitate
wartime disabled veterans continues. Thus, our convention delegates, who are the
leaders within their states and local organizations of the DAV, have adopted resolutions
this year to bring heavy consideration to and address the needs of service-connected
disabled veterans. We will shape government policy and pursue what is right for
today’s and tomorrow’s disabled veteran. As a Nation, we must not mistake symbolism
for substance when our battles are not all won.
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