Matthew Kampainen, DAV WI Commander
"We had a common experience which bound us together, and we ought to continue through an organization of our own...an organization of us, by us and for us…" Robert S. Marx, Founding DAV Commander
The above quote from our Founding Commander, Judge Robert Marx, helps keep me grounded and focused as we enter 2021. What can I say about 2020 that has already been covered by others? The past year was turbulent and was beyond the norm. We witnessed a horrific global pandemic, which as of this writing, over 389,000 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in the United States. We experienced a tense election, civil unrest, and natural catastrophes such as wildfires, tornados, hurricanes.
Our basic existence has changed as we are now engaged in social distancing, wearing masks. No longer does one smell cologne in the air; instead, it is hand sanitizer! We also had a unique piece of insanity as we had a critical shortage of toilet paper, who would have thought.
Regarding DAV, due to safety concerns, we saw the cancellation of State and National Conventions, plus many of our Chapter meetings had to be put on hold. I cannot deny a sense of sheer excitement as I put a new calendar on the wall and flipped the page to January 2021.
As Commander Marx indicated in the above quote, the importance of our work is critical to ensuring that America's promise to the men and women who served is kept. When we gather as an organization, whether at a Chapter, Department, or National level, our work has a life-changing impact on America's disabled veterans. Our presence ensures that veterans will live a life of dignity and respect. DAV is genuinely an agent of change on the American landscape, especially in the Badger State.
As an old Army Infantry Soldier, whether in a Field Training Exercise or a Combat Mission, sometimes we experience a "tactical pause." This would occur when an unknown factor emerged, and as leaders, we had to stand back, take a breath, reassess the situation, obtain new intelligence, gather as a Unit, put out a new plan, then move forward to the objective.
I suspect for many of us; our Chapter meetings could potentially be in the tactical pause mode due to COVID-19. This is understandable as many of our members are probably medically high risk for the virus.
The good news story for 2021 is the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. "Operation Warp Speed" is truly a fantastic story, as we witnessed a partnership between the government and private sector that pulled together a vaccine within a year. Only in America!
A silver lining for the DAV community is that many of our members may fall under the high-risk medical category and are potentially able to receive the vaccine immediately. I would encourage leadership within the Chapters to assess their situation and possibly develop a timetable for when they might be able to meet again. I would encourage that you contact your County Health Department for guidance plus use CDC best practices, if you gather, such as face masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing. I recognize each Chapter is unique and different. Some may be able to gather sooner while some maybe later. Again, much is dependent upon vaccine distribution.
In closing, I appreciate all that you have done for DAV and our veterans during this last year. Despite the hardships that have occurred, many of you still have attempted to carry out the mission. I am truly humbled and honored to be your Commander, as you are an incredible group of people that hold tight to the message of our Founders.