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From the membership director: reach out to women veterans.

DAV has long been at the front of the charge in advancing women veterans' issues, and we continue to work at the leading edge of advocacy for this group. One of the most important ways we can do that is by bringing more women into our member ranks.

We had a greatly successful membership year in 2012, with more than 3,500 new women veterans seeking membership with DAV. Women veterans now represent at least 78,000 of our current membership.

As women have always represented a smaller part of the veterans community, they have had to work much harder to ensure their concerns were brought to the table and given due recognition. We are fortunate enough today to have many women veterans within the DAV family, and we should encourage them to become more actively involved at the Chapter and Department levels.

We have already seen how the hard work and dedication of women veterans within DAV has helped bring greater awareness of gender-specific issues. And moreover, the input from our women veterans determines the way we address the issues veterans encounter across the board.

It has been encouraging to see how many women veterans have stepped up to take on leadership roles on behalf of their fellow veterans, and this is a trend we need to encourage. It is not just for the valuable experience they bring, but also for the encouragement they can provide to other women veterans seeking to join DAV or to take on more challenging roles for the organization.

We need to have women veterans deeply rooted in our organization who are invested in paving a better road for all of our injured and ill veterans. I hope those already in leadership roles will guide and encourage those members in your Chapters and Departments to seek out these opportunities to lead. The experience they bring is a valuable resource in our efforts to fight for veterans' rights.

The number of women in the military, veteran community and in DAV will continue growing for the foreseeable future. We need women, as well as men, who have firsthand knowledge and experience and are willing to take the initiative on these important issues to be taking on leadership roles within DAV.

DAV has a tremendous footprint within the veterans community, and we stand only to benefit from our own members--both men and women--stepping up to fight together for the future of our veterans care and benefits.

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Title Annotation:COMMENTARY
Author:Baskerville, Anthony
Publication:DAV Magazine
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2013
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