JULY 2022

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Rob Hilliard, State Commander

Change of Command, Life Lessons, Hit the Ground Running,

and Accolades

First, I want to thank all the members for standing behind me and putting me as the face of our department. This is truly an honor to serve all of you. I will do everything I can to build on where Wisconsin DAV is and build upon it. I believe this past Convention was the best we have had, going by what the members said.


Change of Command brings back many memories of Command changes from time in service. I am sure all of us had at least 1 or 2 of these. I know I went through at least five that I can remember. Some of these were short and sweet, but then we had the ONES; you all know what I am saying. All the pomp and circumstances one could ever think of are an actual Dog and Pony Show. The one I was in like that was in Dam Neck, VA, in early July 1200 hours and out on the blacktop parking lot ( some know as the grinder ) for two plus hours, and did I mention it was early July 104°? Personnel around me kept dropping like flies; corpsmen would discreetly weave in and of those standing and take the ones that locked their knees. This is where the life lesson comes in. First, some dropped out, fainted, overheated, or were dehydrated. Then you had those who took the easy way out and tapped out because they were weak and wanted to take the easy path. At the end of the ceremony, the base had a new Captain, and there was just a handful that was still standing. The life lesson learned that day but not genuinely understood till later in life. Life is full of challenging roads, and taking the easy path gains you nothing. However, the rugged roads teach us character, determination, work ethics, and compassion for our fellow man. Now what one does with the lessons is one's personal choice to learn and grow or stay stagnant. You will see my tagline in the future "Facta non-Verba." A loose translation of " Action not Words."


There was no time to sit around; only a few days after the Convention, the Adjutant and I were off in our new positions. We had a meeting of the big 3 (VSOs) with the WDVA Secretary and Director of Healthcare at the Union Grove State Veterans Home. We were down there to address the allegations that were in the paper by a ( my words ) lazy reporter that did not do a complete job of investigating both sides before publishing a story ( real journalism). We found most of the reported allegations to be more than five years old, one-sided, or not factual. It is a shame because the story upset many of the veterans that live there.

In July, our Senior Vice Greg Palo and I were off to Erlanger, Kentucky, DAV National Headquarters for C&A ( Commanders and Adjutant training). For those of our members that have not been down there, this is four days of training and networking with all the other Departments. You learn so much during the networking. The proudest I have been of our State was all the Accolades we got while down there. Every speaker had something positive to say about us. They would say if you want to learn how to do this ( whatever the topic ), talk to the guys from Wisconsin. Great job, everyone; keep it up.


Till the next time it is time to take off to Orlando for the National Convention, I will have many exciting items to share with you when we get back.

Until then…." Facta non-Verba"

Greg Palo, State Senior Vice Commander 

   Membership is one of our most important missions in DAV members, chapters, departments and the national organization. Without members, we cannot “Keep our promise to America’s Veterans”. Our organization has many purposes for which our membership voluntarily works. Without our members, we cannot support our programs, which include service, transportation, corporate or individual donations, and congressional influence. DAV members count, when we advocate for benefits congressionally, both federal and state. Membership, also, gives the DAV influence in the corporate arena.


   One of the recruitment methods is personal contact, be it walking down the street, standing in line, or one of our biggest; the Forget-Me-Not drive. Another method is by mail or telephone contact using the net prospect list available from the National Membership Department. National is waiting to send each Chapter in the Department a New Prospect List.


   Every year DAV National has Department competition for recruiting the most members; this includes the March Madness competition. There are awards to win on the National and Department level. The competition design is to have each Chapter and District attain 100% of membership goal, and provide for future members by raising the level of awareness of the DAV among potential members and the public at large.

Michael Hert, State Chaplain

To my fellow Veterans and friends, it's my honor to pen my first article as the Chaplain for the DAV Department of Wisconsin. I was humbled at the 2022 Department Convention as Commander Hilliard requested that I would step on board as the Chaplain. I didn't hesitate to accept as the Department Chaplain is a critical position within the organization.

Michael Dover, Past National Chaplain, described the role of the Chaplain best: "A DAV chaplain provides for the nurture and practice of religious beliefs, traditions, and customs in a pluralistic environment to accommodate the religious lives of our Veterans and their families – regardless of whether you agree with a said belief. As a DAV Chaplain, you are part of a nonsectarian organization that accepts all Faiths."

The Chaplain is perceived as the organization's Spiritual Leader and will advise the Commander and individual staff on religion, morals, and morale.

While many of you recognize me for my involvement with Chapter (17) and as a Past Department Commander (2018-2020), I also have a very active faith life. I'm a certified lay speaker within my domination. I've conducted church services, preached sermons, conducted burials, and engaged in Bible studies. I should also mention that I'm a retired Licensed Professional Counselor and was Mental Health and Substance Abuse certified. I've discovered my past work experience as a Counselor, and my current leadership within the Faith community have truly complimented the other, thus providing me the tools to serve as your Chaplain.

In conclusion, I look forward to serving my fellow Veterans and our leadership team. Together we make a difference in the lives of Veterans!

Gregory Palo, State VAVS Chairperson 

How many of you have thought about being a VA hospital or Soldier’s Home (facility) Volunteer and do not know where to start? VAVS allows one Representative and up to three Deputy Representatives per facility. With COVID winding down, and facilities opening up, our Department is in need of many more VAVS Volunteers. There are many conventional assignments for Volunteers but other assignments can be created for Volunteers with special talents and/or abilities.


The Volunteer Office receives many requests from staff for the assistance of volunteers. They attempt to utilize every volunteer who wishes to provide assistance, whether working directly with members or assisting in a subsidiary capacity.

Volunteers do not replace staff members in any way. They supplement paid staff by providing a variety of services.


As a volunteer, you are a member of the team, and as a team member, you are working with trained and qualified medical professional personnel. You are here, not as a substitute for any staff, but to provide your own special contribution for the welfare of the members.


Volunteers contribute their services in various ways:

  1. As individuals or as groups by providing services to benefit members and staff on a regular schedule of assignments.
  2. By arranging and sponsoring activities for groups of veterans and their dependents.
  3. By contributing supplies and materials to be used by various members and their dependents.


Remember, volunteers are here for one primary purpose, to assist in providing the best possible care for our veterans and their dependents.


Your help is valuable and important and offers many rewards: Giving back to those who served this Great Country in our time of need!

  • IT IS REWARDING TO THE MEMBER: It makes members feel good to know someone cares enough to donate their time and energy to help them.
  • IT IS REWARDING TO THE STAFF: Facility staff recognize and appreciate the special role volunteers play in helping the Facility function efficiently.
  • IT IS REWARDING TO YOU: Being a volunteer offers a sense of satisfaction, the warm feeling that comes whenever you extend yourself in the pursuit of any worthwhile goal. Do not overlook the potential for personal growth, which comes from being a volunteer. Department has grouped VAVS and LVAP hours together in order to award the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd, place Volunteers of the year annually at Fall Conference.


With Volunteer Services, there are a minimum of four meetings per year. The meetings are currently video and in person depending on the status of COVID. The meetings are not mandatory but you are encouraged to attend because important information is disseminated regarding past, present, and future activities requiring Volunteers.

Matthew Kempainen, State Adjutant 

The state convention brought changes in leadership with all but two officers. We have a fantastic line of officers dedicated to serving the DAV Department of Wisconsin. Commander Hilliard has already started to implement his goals for the following year. Sr Vice Palo has jumped into membership and started to rewrite our binder for the VAVS representatives at our VA and WDVA facilities. Our three brand-new Junior Vices have been diving into their new positions and learning at a fast pace to keep Wisconsin ahead of the game. They are 1st Jr Vice Pat Lillis, 2nd Junior Vice David Felton, and 3rd Junior Vice Tiffany Koehler. Tom Sontag is your new Judge Advocate.  

As your adjutant, I have been working with Commander Hilliard to move Wisconsin into more technological avenues of recruitment and exposure. The new app for DAV Wisconsin is up and running and is available in both the Google Play Store and Apple Store. With this new app, you can upload your LVAP hours or your chapters Form 60. Also, you can recruit new members and access our department webpage. We are also working with the latest web designer to update and revamp the website. There will be a webinar and possibly more training on the app at Fall Conference.

In July, your Commander and Senior Vice went to the Commanders and Adjutants training in Erlanger, KY. They will update you on that in their article. As for myself, I was able to participate in the UW MIA Recovery and Identification Project. I went to Belgium for three and half weeks to participate in finding a World War II plane crash and possibly recover any MIA remains. It was one of the most humbling experiences in my life. As a soldier, our creed is to leave no one behind. This project helps to give the family and his fellow brothers and sisters in arms closure. I have volunteered to join more missions in the future.

August 4th-10th is the National Convention; DAV Wisconsin will be represented heavily as it always has been in the past. With three Wisconsin Veterans winning National Awards, we will set the bar high for all others in the DAV. None of the things Wisconsin is being recognized for can be done without its members, family members, and community volunteering. 

It should be a fantastic year with most things picking up and the world returning as close to normal as we can get it. I look forward to seeing you succeed in our mission to “Keep our Promise to America’s Veterans.”

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