contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer
Wartime military service, especially if that service includes an injury or illness, is an experience that most civilians will never be able to comprehend. It is possibly for this reason that, despite their efforts and sacrifice, America’s disabled veterans are an often-overlooked population.
Enter: the DAV. Charity Navigator, a website dedicated to objectively evaluating non-profit organizations utilizes many DAV reviews and has rated the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust among the top (four star) charities for years.
Exactly what does the DAV do for Veterans? Here’s a little bit about this 100-year-old organization and what it strives to accomplish.
In 1920, disabled war hero, Judge Robert Marx, wanted to give a voice to those forever changed by the World War. He imagined an organization that would serve and advocate for all combat veterans, as he believed our country was ill-prepared to handle the reality in which these soldiers lived after their wartime service. He wanted to empower veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.
With a membership to the DAV, veterans help each other achieve this goal. Today, the DAV has over 1 million active members and serves veterans in a variety of ways.
The DAV works to provide benefits to disabled American veterans which will enhance and enrich their lives. Some of their most notable services include:
The DAV aims to ensure that veterans have the resources they need to enter the job market. They sponsor hundreds of career fairs across the country each year, and the DAV employment program connects veterans and their families with employers who are actively looking to hire.
Navigating the VA claims process can be tricky, and often leaves veterans overlooked and under compensated. Professional assistance for those seeking benefits earned through their military service is provided by the DAV. Veterans can work with claims specialists, available for everything from help filling out a form to representing them to the VA, if need be.
The DAV keeps a close eye on current legislation and fights to make changes where they are needed. In 2019, the DAV argued against delaying the addition of four diseases to the list of agent orange presumptive diseases – which, after Congress agreed, allowed many Vietnam Veterans to finally receive benefits for their service-related health conditions. Another 2019 victory for the DAV: information provided by the organization convinced the government to formally concede that veterans who served near burn pits in the Middle East were exposed to harmful chemicals and toxins. This made it much easier for veterans who served under these conditions to have their disability claims approved.
Transportation assistance has been an important part of the DAV since its inception. Today, the DAV manages a full fleet of vehicles, primarily donated by manufacturers. These vehicles are driven by volunteers and used to transport disabled or ill DAV veterans to VA medical facilities across the country.
Becoming a member of the DAV is as easy as filling out an online form.
To be eligible for DAV veteran membership, a servicemember must:
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, DAV veterans receive many discounts, bonuses, and complimentary services from DAV partners such as Avis, Ford, and Quicken Loans. Membership also gives veterans access to a variety of important programs and events in all areas of the country.