Michael Hert, DAV Wisconsin Commander
Badger State DAV members
The Department of Wisconsin came off its 91st State Convention in full stride, ready to continue its march forward while ensuring America keeps its promise to the men and women who served. We had the honor of Dennis Nixon, DAV National Commander, being in attendance along with his spouse Maxine. DAV Wisconsin made the trip memorable for Commander Nixon. Prior to Convention, he took a tour of the Packer Hall of Fame and afterwards met with Mark Murphy, CEO, of the Green Bay Packers.
At the State Convention Banquet, Green Bay Packers linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who was last year’s Quarterback Sack leader, presented Commander Nixon with a signed Green Bay Packers football. While Commander Nixon is a Texan home of the Dallas Cowboys, I know that he was in awe of the Badger State reception to his presence.
Commander Nixon was actively engaged with Northeast Wisconsin media. He appeared on the WBAY TV-2 Noon show with Kevin Rompa, the channel news anchor. While earlier in the day, Commander Nixon and I appeared on the WHBY 1150 AM Morning radio show with on-air personality Dave Edwards. His insight and presence ensured our Television and Radio appearances were a resounding success.
We officially moved from seven to five Districts at this Convention. When transitions occur at this level there is always the potential for “Murphy’s Law” occurring. Due to the commitment and vision of Department Executive Committee members and Chapter members at large, no issues or challenges occurred. Everything was smooth sailing!
During the election for Department Senior Vice Commander, the new five Districts met effortlessly as a Caucus. Again, a big shout out to the new District Executive Committeepersons and the Chapter members for making the transition a major triumph.
The Convention opening began on a unique note as a Poet conducted a reading. This was one of those “outside of the box” moments. John Miller, a Poet from Northern Wisconsin, has devoted his craft toward the Veteran community. His poetry reading was outstanding and touched the heart of all those present. I anticipate this will be a new tradition in the coming years.
We received messages of unity from our fellow Veterans Service Organizations Department Commanders plus obtained critical updates from Department of Veterans Affairs’ officials at the federal and state level.
Both VISN 12 Deputy Director Lynette Taylor and Dr. Daniel Zomchek, Milwaukee VA Medical Director, spoke about provisions contained in the VA MISSION Act which will directly affect veterans. These included the new Community Care Program, new Urgent Care Benefits and expansion of VA Caregiver Services.
Duane Honeycutt, VA Regional Office Director, spoke about the implementation of Blue Water Navy benefits and the new Appeals process.
This was WDVA Secretary-designee Mary Kolar first appearance to the membership at large. She provided an insightful and dynamic presentation regarding Veterans issues at the State level. Special mention should be made that Secretary Kolar is a member of Wisconsin DAV Chapter 2.
In the Saturday afternoon session, all resolutions that were reviewed by the various committees were approved by the body. The Nomination Committee presented their slates of Officers. As shared before, we did have an election for the Senior Vice Commander position. We have an incredible group of Leaders elected for the 2019-2020 term.
I will mention that I was reelected to be the Department Commander for a second term. This is historic in nature as this is a first in the modern times of the Department of Wisconsin. This occurred due to a change in the Constitution & Bylaws last year.
I can’t deny being exhausted at the end of Convention yet exhilarated for its success. Many told me this was the best convention ever. Special recognition goes out to our Office Managers Shelby Sigl and Deirdre Flynn. They committed their heart and soul to ensure the 91st Convention would be a phenomenal event for those in attendance.
Lastly, I have to mention that DAV as a National organization is walking into our 100-year centennial. That is incredible! So “Together Forward”, let us move into the 2019-2020 year, ensuring that Veterans lead lives of dignity and respect.