Matthew Kampainen, DAV WI Commander
With COVID-19 – endure, adjust and be upbeat
Greetings to my fellow veterans and our loyal DAV friends and associates! As previously shared, we are truly going through unchartered territory with COVID-19. At times, I feel like the main character in the film “Groundhog Day,” as it seems like the days keep repeating themselves. Just when I think it's going to be in our rearview mirror, the COVID-19 situation remains in our passenger seat with us. Social distancing, face masks, and using hand sanitizer appear to be part of our “new normal” as we forge forward into the future.
Due to our military background and status as veterans, major character strength for us is our ability to endure, adjust and be upbeat in the toughest of situations. We cannot get ourselves bogged down but instead readjust our battle plans to challenges that lie ahead.
In my last article, I talked about three areas of focus for the coming year, those being
. I would like to take this opportunity to focus on empowerment. As defined, “Empowerment” is the process of becoming more confident and stronger. There is an old saying out there “When given a lemon, make lemonade.” Due to COVID-19, we have experienced DAV events being cancelled at the Chapter, State, and National levels. I can see it being disheartening especially when as a National organization, we were celebrating our Centennial year.
Yet I want to verbalize a word of caution and that we do not throw in the towel regarding our activities. The easy route would be in the face of COVID-19 to shrug our shoulders, say to ourselves, “Oh Well,” and then let the year wander off on us.
That’s why I like the meaning and the power of the word empowerment. Whether as an individual DAV member, Chapter, or Department members, we still have the power to make a difference in the lives of our veterans. It’s akin to battlefield planning. If one route is blocked or has overwhelming force covering it, you adjust and come up with your target from a different way. Again, our end state is watching the back of our veterans.
As an example of a simple activity that can occur between the Chapter and its Auxiliary Unit, we have three Wisconsin Veteran Homes within the State located at Chippewa Falls, King, and Union Grove. The residents are living under strict quarantine conditions and have no contact with the outside world. I would encourage you to get a list of the birthdays and send out cards to our veterans. It’s pretty cost-effective, and you just need cards, stamps and the volunteers to send them out. However, to the veteran living in isolation, receiving that card will mean everything. A straightforward yet powerful gesture.
I encourage Chapters to connect with their local County Public Health Departments and receive guidance regarding activities during these COVID-19 times. Think outside of the box, empower yourselves, look for potential opportunities to make that difference in the lives of your local veterans. Also, share that information with your District Executive Committeeperson as they can relay it to our Chapters and the Departments. Again, if you have a high speed, hot idea, please share it with others. Remember, the game is not over until the final second ticks off the clock.
In closing, again, I would like to thank everybody for your support and kind words since coming on board as your Commander. Despite the challenge of COVID–19, I still believe that we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our veterans and that our membership has the tenacity and insight to make it happen.