Matthew Kampainen, DAV WI Commander
I cannot help but not preface these remarks without not mentioning the impact of COVID-19. As a national organization, DAV was in the midst of our 100th-anniversary celebration; however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both our National and State conferences were canceled. The last time our Convention was canceled was during WW II.
As of this writing, 605,785 tested positive for COVID-19 in Wisconsin while sadly, over 6,000 deaths have occurred. Due to the nature of COVID-19, many of our DAV members fall into the high-risk category. The impact at the Chapter and Department level is that meetings and veterans’ activities have been put on hold.
Case in point, our VA Medical Centers and State Veterans Homes, due to COVID-19, are not allowing visitors. In turn, our volunteers cannot engage in resident and patient activities, which impacts our LVAP hours. We also could not invite prospective members to Chapter meetings since they were canceled. This affects our membership recruitment.
There is an old saying, "When given a lemon, make lemonade." Despite these unprecedented challenges, our organization made some significant strides in the last six months.
- Despite the cancellation of the 2020 State DAV Convention, a smooth transition occurred with the installation of a new slate of Officers. I was sworn in as the new Department Commander, while I had the privilege of installing the new team for the coming year. It should be mentioned the local media did cover this event.
At the first Executive Committee meeting, I unveiled my vision for the coming year to our leadership team, which was well received.
o Compassion –Feelings that arise when confronted with the
suffering of others and alleviating their suffering.
o Empowerment – The Process of becoming stronger and
o Unity – The state of being united or joined as one.
- I attended 15 Chapter meetings during the first half of this year.
- We facilitated 2 Chapter mergers during this time frame (Chapter 4 melded into Chapter 28 and Chapter 43 into Chapter 62).
- I testified before the State Joint Committee on Finance in support of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) grant designated by State Statute to the Wisconsin DAV Transportation Network.
- The Department participated in the Green Bay Packer "Give Back to Veterans" event on December 12, 2020.
- The Department has 22,055 LVAP hours recorded.
- The Department has 106 new members.
- Transportation has been limited but is starting to open back up; however, we have driven 153,426 miles and transported 4,437 Veterans to medical appointments.
Goals for January 2021 to June 2021
- Will accept DAV National’s Outstanding Performance in Advocacy (OPA) Award for Division III on behalf of the Department.
- Conduct webinars for committee meetings and training.
- We continue our Department Phone Conference monthly meetings.
- We are finalizing Strategic Plan by establishing Department goals.
- Conduct District meetings and hold the 2021 State Convention providing COVID-19 pandemic allows.
- Continue to support legislation at the national and state level.
- Continue to move forward with membership goals.
- Win DAV National’s Local Veterans Assistance Program (LVAP) Award in Division III for the Department.
In summary, as the year moves along, other potential goals can be added to the list. The current wild card is the new COVID-19 vaccines that is being delivered to distribution sites within the state. If the vaccine is a success, we could be brought back closer to normal.
Lastly, much credit goes to our Chapter leaders. Despite the horrendous impact of COVID-19, they remained steadfast in their commitment to the DAV mission by ensuring that veterans lead high quality lives of respect and dignity.