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New needs, new opportunities.

Thousands of DAV volunteers each year receive the warm satisfaction and enjoyment of helping build better lives for disabled veterans and their families by helping others. Through our participation with the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services (VAVS) program and the DAV Transportation Network, our members serve their fellow disabled veterans in a variety of helpful and valued ways. But there are needs in areas far from VA facilities where others can help.

It is our goal to ensure that volunteers who live in areas with service needs have the opportunity to assist disabled veterans in their communities as well. We call it the Local Veterans Assistance Program (LVAP), and we are now implementing the tools needed to bring new volunteer programs to underserved areas. It will include all the recognition awards we now provide through the DAV VAVS program, as well as eligibility to apply for Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarships for student volunteers.

By organizing local volunteers and providing incentives, we can accomplish a significant service that will help even more disabled veterans in their local communities.

For example, volunteers can be recognized for Chapter and Department Service Officer work, DAV outreach efforts, approved Chapter and Department fundraising and direct assistance to veterans, widows or families with deployed service members. Volunteers can receive credit for such activities as yard work and home repairs as well. All donated hours under LVAP will be credited just like the hours donated in the VAVS program.

Young volunteers who serve in the LVAP may receive consideration for college aid through the Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship program. In the past, many students were eager to apply for the scholarships, but were unable to participate because they lived too far from a VA medical facility where they could volunteer.

The LVAP program will provide ways to encourage Departments to promote community support of National Guard mobilizations and demobilizations, which are part of our Memorandum of Understanding with the National Guard Bureau.

The concept behind LVAP is to reach out to all veterans. While the VAVS program isn't everywhere, the DAV is, and our members and others can volunteer to help in their communities, no matter how isolated.

Our mission of building better lives for disabled veterans and their families is not focused on population centers but on the veterans and their families who have needs wherever they are. We can reach out to help with voluntary services, giving comfort and support to the men and women who sacrificed for our freedom.

The LVAP program is rewarding for both the volunteers and those who need their assistance. It will greatly improve the quality of life for disabled veterans and their families and will recognize volunteers for their generous service. It's a win-win program, and it's what we do as veterans serving veterans.

Specific information on the new Local Veterans Assistance Program has been sent to Departments and Chapters. And keep checking the DAY Web site regularly for updates on this and all our volunteer programs.

Edward E. Hartman, National Director of Voluntary Services
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Author:Hartman, Edward E.
Publication:DAV Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2007
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