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Paul Jackson elected National Commander.

The brightest moment of a stellar 84th National Convention in Las Vegas was the unanimous election of National Commander Paul W. Jackson of Colorado. The combat veteran vowed to launch a year of determined leadership on behalf of our nation's disabled veterans and their families.

How humbled I am that you have chosen me to represent the DAV as your National Commander," Jackson said to the throng of convention delegates. "Thank you for the confidence: you have placed in me. I will do all In my power to be worthy of this truly great honor."

The U. S. Marine Corps and Army veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars said lie shared a strong commitment to serving fellow veterans and their families because they are linked by a common bond.

Commander Jackson praised his predecessor, Past National Commander James E. Sursely, for his dedicated service. "Thank you, for your commitment and service." lie said. "I wish you ail the good things in life." Sursely said his year of service as National Commander has been the culmination of his life's dream. "It goes without saying that I couldn't have accomplished what I have without your support this past year." lie said. "Thank you for your devotion to duty and all your dedicated work on behalf of this file organization Of Ours."

Commander Jackson's election culminated an exciting and productive four-day National Convention, featuring seminars, workshops, awards presentations, and the hard work and planning; required to protect the rights and benefits of the nation's disabled veterans. including the newest generation of war wounded now returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Reminding the 5,00 DAV and Auxiliary delegates and guests of their responsibility to act in the interest and support of veterans, Commander Jackson said. "We need to focus on taking an active part, both individually and collectively, in direct service to veterans." he said. "We need to redouble our efforts to build -renter awareness and support for veterans programs, both in Washington and among the American public."

In addition. convention delegates enacted by-law changes designed to help improve Department and Chapter business practices that will ensure the public's trust in tile organization is maintained by the highest standards. Included will be annual audits of Department and Chapter spending and fundraising activities, reviewed by tile National Organization.

"I really like the emphasis put on all the things this organization stands for," said Francis X. O'Connell, a DAV member from Pompano Beach, Fla., attending his first National Convention.

The National Convention got underway Saturday. Aug. 13, with the Board of Directors meeting, featuring a financial report by National Headquarters Executive Director Richard E. Patterson, who said that Americans continue to recognize the DAV's mission of service to disabled veterans through their generous contributions.

Board Chairman Alan W. Bowers, noted that the public's contributions demonstrate strong support for the organization's programs of service to disabled veterans and their families.

"This is an amazing report," said board member and National Judge Advocate Michael E. Dobmeier. "It shows tile trust the American people have in our organization."

Later, hundreds gathered at the Leadership Seminar to hear retired Army Gen. James L. Anderson focus on tile tools necessary to develop future leaders for tile organisation. "The one point I want to make is that a leader must have a servant's heart." lie said. "It is only by being a servant to your people tint you can become a true leader."

The seminar was the first of several offered at tile National Convention covering Membership, Communications, Benefits Protection, Service and Legislative issues, POW/MIAs, and Women Veterans.

The Opening Session of the National Convention began Sunday, Aug. 14. Convention Chairman Gerald Ogle welcomed the large crowd and addressed the history of the city of Las Vegas, highlighting; its role in the defense of our nation.

National Commander Sursely, who was completing his year of leadership, said he was tremendously honored to serve disabled veterans.

He added that America strongly supports disabled veterans, but needs the knowledge to help. " It falls to us to take the lead and to ensure that the American people know of the plans proposed by the Administration and our elected leaden in Washington to shortchange veterans health care. services, and benefits," lie said.

Sursely, a triple amputee of the Vietnam War, said one of the most heartwarming events of his life was visiting the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "One of the veterans I met was Brian Kolfage who also is a triple amputee," he said. "I could see both courage and pain in ]its eyes. His spirit was overwhelming, as was his determination to live a full life. There were many others I visited, along with their parents, wives, and other loved ones. In them, I saw die future of our organization."

Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson told the delegates he had great pride in serving veterans on the national level. "As Secretary, I have the wonderful opportunity to serve, to give back to our country's greatest treasures--its veterans," lie said.

Addressing the funding shortages for VA health care, Nicholson said efforts were underway to resolve the problem. "At the VA, we know you're concerned about the budget for 2005 and beyond." lie said. "We hear you, we agree, and we are taking action."

Nicholson also promised a VA health care system that will meet the needs of the newest generation of disabled veterans. "We will make sure that the soldiers, when they return, will have adequate health care," he said.

Disabled Veterans' LIFE Memorial Foundation Chairman Lois Pope updated delegates on the planned American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. "The Foundation is working to create the one and only memorial in Washington. D.C., to commemorate your sacrifices for our freedoms," she said. "You have earned our nation's undying gratitude."

Auxiliary National Commander Gertrude Tidwell praised the Auxiliary's tremendous dedication on behalf of disabled veterans.

"Our members are determined to continue our mission to disabled veterans," she said. "The Auxiliary supports our service, legislative, and voluntary service programs. The only way to make things happen is to stand strong with DAV members." The first Bugle Award was presented to Fox Television host Oliver North and Producer/Director Steven Tierney of "War Stories with Oliver North" to recognize their contributions on behalf of our nation's veterans.

The Bugle Award was created this year to recognize outstanding reporting and programming on vital PUNK policy issues relating to veterans as well as telling the stories of the courage and honor of our nation's disabled veterans and their families.

North noted the term "hero" is often stretched beyond its definition. "The real heroes are those who put themselves in harm's k way for others," he said. "This is a room full of heroes. What the DAV does is help people use their skills and talents who would otherwise not have had the chance."

Dennis Cirbes of Ford Motor Company again demonstrated the firm's commitment to the DAV's Transportation Network with a donation of eight new l2-passenger vans. Two of the vans were unveiled amid fanfare to the delegates. The vans will be used by VA medical centers in Washington, D.C.; Iron Mountain, Mich.; Chillicothe. Ohio: Portland, Ore.; Fort Meade, S.D.; Spokane, Wash.; Clarksburg, W Va.; and Cheyenne, Wyo. Since 1996, Ford has donated to the DAV a total of 106 vans worth approximately $2.5 million.

Cirbes also presented S50,000 to the Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship Program. These scholarships recognize outstanding young volunteers who are active participants in the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service Program.

Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year. John Devine told his touching story of recovery from grievous wounds received during the Vietnam War. Suffering the loss of his right leg, severe injuries to his left leg, and significant hearing loss, Devine said, "Everyone is faced with a challenge. When faced with a challenge, just go for it. Do it."

Devine said after he returned home, he had to learn to enjoy life slowly over the first year. Many people helped him during his recovery and rehabilitation, including members of DAV National Amputee Chapter 76 in Malverne, N.Y. where he has served three terms as Chapter Commander. Despite his disability, his competitive spirit led him to become an outstanding ski instructor, avid bowler, and superior golfer. (See the July/August DAV Magazine.)

The Past National Commander's Outstanding Auxiliary member of the Year Award was presented to an overjoyed Ethel H. Bussey, of Unit 10, Augusta., Ga., who is noted for her work with junior Auxiliary members. "We all want to achieve anything that is possible," she said in accepting what she called her "highest honor."

The prestigious George H. Seal awards, honoring remarkable DAV and Auxiliary volunteers, recognized Troy Bowling of Lexington, Ky., and Ruth Bier of Austin, Texas.

Bowling, 78, has donated more than 56,000 hours volunteering at VA medical centers, spending the last 40 years contributing as a volunteer at the Lexington VAMC.

As a Marine wounded on Iwo Jima, Bowling said he promised that if he could survive the combat, lie would live a life of service. "Volunteering has saved my life," he said. "Working for others keeps me alive."

Bier, with nearly 36,000 hours as an Auxiliary volunteer, works at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System outpatient clinic in Austin. She is responsible for the day to-day activities and services for volunteers and patients and coordinates the DAV Transportation Network at the clinic.

Bier was unable to attend the National Convention due to ill health. Her award was later presented to her in her hometown of Austin.

Andrew B. Layton, 17, of Battle Creek, Mich., with more more than 182 hours of service at the VA medical center in Battle Creek, Mich., was presented the first place award in the Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship Program.

The annual awards recognize 12 outstanding young volunteers who are active in the VA Voluntary Service program. (See the July/August DA V Magazine.)

National Adjutant Arthur H. Wilson opened the National Convention's business session on Sunday, Aug. 14, with his report on the National Organization's activities for 2004-2005.

"It's been another successful year for the DAV," he said. And you can be very proud of your role in our successes. Because everything we do is a team effort, it is your hard work that makes it happen for all of us."

Wilson said DAV membership has grown to a record 1,300,727 and the number of fully-paid life members was approaching a record I million mark. "We, more than anyone else, understand why there needs to be a DAV, especially now with so many of our fellow Americans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, and all over the world bearing the wounds and scars of war.

"War is an ugly business, made even more so when it affects someone you know," he said. "The DAV is just as important today as it was in the beginning ... those who come home from war wounded and sick need the care and attention of a grateful nation.

Noting that membership has reached an all-time high, National Membership Director Michael J. Walsh said there will be many DAV members serving the newest generation of disabled veterans.

He attributed the continuing growth in membership to the outstanding; work of recruiters and National Service Officers. "They have proved yet again that innovation and leadership cats overcome adversity ... and that membership in the DAV is a valuable asset."

U.S. Congressman Jon C. Porter (R-Nev.) began his remarks at the National Convention session on Monday. Aug. 15, by praising the delegates for "reaching out to veterans all over the nation, and you touch the veteran's heart."

"As a member of Congress, I am so proud of you and share your pride," he said. "You are truly America's heroes."

Gerri Schroder, an aide to U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) brought National Convention delegates a message of praise. Schroder said Rep. Berkley. a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee "believes we should honor the commitment to care for our veterans."

National Service Director Randy Reese emceed the annual Employment Awards and the new VA Employee Awards.

"It is crucial that veterans--especially disabled veterans--enjoy the satisfaction and self-esteem of earn 111 (; a fair living," said Reese. "The National Commander's Employment Awards recognize truly worthy individuals and companies for their efforts toward employing veterans.

The Outstanding Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist of the Year, James E. Gilmer, an employment specialist at the Gainesville Career Center, Gainesville, Ga., was recognised for his remarkable record in finding jobs for disabled veterans. Gilmer told delegates lie was grateful for "the honor to work with veterans."

John Heritage, Jr., of the Texas Workforce Center, Richardson, Texas, received the Outstanding Local Veterans Employment Representative Award for his compassion and professionalism helping unemployed veterans find suitable employment.

AKAL Security was named the Outstanding Large Employer of the Year. The Espanola, N.M., company has a remarkable record of employing veterans. Accepting the award for AKAL Security, Army Contracts Division Director Rick W, Durham, said "the best workers are our veterans. They are the kind of workers we look for."

West-Tek Company Police of Smithfield, N.C., received Outstanding Small Employer of the Year, but was unable to send a representative to accept the award. It was presented later at the company's headquarters.

For the first time, the DAV honored VA employees for their dedication to improving lives for disabled veterans and their families. Three outstanding VA employees were presented the new National Commander's Outstanding VA Employee awards. Nancy Reissener, Associate Director of the Northern Florida and Southern Georgia Veterans Health System in Lake City, Fla., received the National Commander's Award for outstanding performance as an employee of the Veterans Health Administration in recognition of her compassionate and consistent advocacy for veterans using VA health care facilities.

Veterans Benefits Administration employee Douglas B. Wadsworth, Salt Lake City, Utah, Regional Office Director, received the National Commander's Award for his outstanding performance and extraordinary advocacy on behalf of more than 339,000 veterans in Utah, Alaska, and Montana.

The National Commander's Award for the outstanding VA National Cemetery Administration employee was awarded to Alan S. Sumitomo, a project director for the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. Sumitomo began a Compensated Work Therapy program there to help disabled veterans make the adjustment back to the community workforce and further contribute to society.

"I was deeply impressed by the professionalism of our organization in honoring the VA employees," said David W. Irby, a member of Chapter 61 in Mt. Airy, N.C.

The National Convention also included a variety of seminars and workshops, and the opportunity to enjoy some of the great entertainment Las Vegas offers.

The Fun Night reception featured actor Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band. Sinise, who portrayed Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, entertained the crowd with a variety of music and dancing.

Business resumed on Wednesday, Aug. 17, with the National Service Foundation annual report by President Gary Burns, who praised the corps of National Service Officers, who are important assets of the Foundation and its fund raising efforts. "They accounted for more than $1 million in donations in the last year," said Burns, recognizing the fine top division fund raising offices.

"War has made the Charitable Service Trust more necessary," said Chairman Richard E. Marbes in presenting the Trust's annual report. "The Charitable Service Trust is then for our newest generation of disabled veterans, with S2.2 million in revenue. The true measure of the Trust is its support."

Keeping with tradition. after the reports DAV Departments, Chapters, and individual members made donations to the programs, including $82,000 to the National Service Foundation, $65,550 to the Colorado Trust, $5,100 to the Charitable Service Trust, and $9,150 to the Disabled Veterans' LIFE Memorial Foundation.

The unanimous election of National Officers at the afternoon session marked a spirited beginning for the new membership-year, Joining National Commander Jackson as National Officers are Senior Vice Commander Bradley S. Barton, Ist Jr. Vice Commander Robert T. Reynolds. 2nd Jr. Vice Commander Raymond E. Dempsey, 3rd Jr. Vice Commander Roberto Ban-era, 4th Jr. Vice Commander Wallace E. Tyson of Raleigh, N.C., National Judge Advocate Michael E. Dobmeier, and National Chaplain Rev. Dr. Edward Bastille of San Mateo, Calif.

At the Executive Committee meeting following the election of National Officers, National Adjutant Wilson offered his congratulations and noted the beginning of another historic year for the DAV

"We stand at (lie beginning of exciting challenges and possibilities to fulfill our mission of service to disabled veterans and their families," Wilson said.

"The camaraderie at the National Convention is what's best," said Leonard F. Humes, a member of Chapter 114 in San Antonio, Texas.

"The Board of Directors meeting concluded the work of the National Convention with the election of Past National Commander Sursely as Chairman and Senior Vice Commander Barton as Vice Chairman.

Later, National Convention delegates and guests kicked up their heels at a banquet featuring a special presentation to entertainer Wayne Newton and a performance by the USG's show troupe "American Spirit."

The DAV recognized Newton's long career of dedication, patriotism, and compassionate service to America's veterans. As Chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle, Newton spearheads efforts to bring entertainment and appreciation to the thousands of brave men and women serving overseas.

"Wayne has led 14 USO foreign tours and was the first performer to entertain American troops during the height of the fighting in Afghanistan in 2001," said National Adjutant Wilson. "He led use tours to Iraq twice in 2003 and then returned in 2004. Wayne is committed to serving those who serve and sacrifice for our country,"

Newton said he was thrilled and honored to receive the DAV award from National Commander Jackson and Past National Commander Sursely. "I must tell you this is one of the highlights of my life," he said. "I am humbled beyond words because so many of you have given so much more than 1. We wouldn't be here without you."

"It's been a wonderful convention." Timothy D. Hedgecock, a member of Chapter 56 in Lawton, Okla., said. I hope everyone encourages the younger veterans to be a part of our great organization."

DAV National Officers

2005-2006

National Commander

Paul W. Jackson

Colorado Springs, CO

Senior Vice Commander

Bradley S. Barton

Tualatin, OR

1st Jr. Vice Commander

Robert T, Reynolds

Alexandria, VA

2nd Jr. Vice Commander

Raymond E. Dempsey

Des Plaines, IL

3rd Jr. Vice. Commander

Roberto Barrera

Del Rio, TX

4th Jr. Vice Commander

Wallace E. Tyson

Raleigh, NC

National Judge Advocate

Michael E. Dobmeier

Grand Forks, ND

National Chaplain

Rev. Dr. Edward Bastille

San Mateo, CA

Past National Commander

James E. Sursely

Apopka, FL

NEC 1st District

James H. Tanner. Lynn. MA

Alternate

Joseph A. Costa, North Attleboro, MA

NEC 2nd District

John J. Skyler, Cheektowaga, NY

Alternate

Anthony L. Mirando, Baldwin, NY

NEC 3rd District

Anthony T. Karam, Manchester, NH

Alternate

Wilfred Sonny Noel, Raymond. ME

NEC 4th District

Richard E. Manners, Clark, NJ

Alternate

Paul V. Lardizzone. Dover. DE

NEC 5th District

John E. Ogozaly. Simpson, PA

Alternate

Darlene Biclecki, Eric, PA

NEC 6th District

Robert V, Richard, Sr., Washington. DC

Alternate

German Bravo-Perez. San Juan, PR

NEC 7th District

Edward S. Barnshaw, Bradenton, FL

Alternate

Roger Sullivan, Lady Lake, FL

NEC 8th District

Harold J. Hicks, Harvest, AL

Alternate

Thomas Tucker, Deatsviile, AL

NEC 9th District

William L. Coward. Leesburg, GA

Alternate

Julius Small, Jr., Riverdale. GA

NEC 10th District

Morris Penemon, Detroit, M1

Alternate

Joseph M. Connellv. Livonia, MI

NEC 11th District

Harlan F. Plummer, Peebles. OH

Alternate

Frank D, Williams. South Vienna, OH

NEC 12th District

Norman J. Resner, Hanover Park, IL

Alternate

Alfred C. Reynolds, Mt. Zion, IL

NEC 13th District

James S. Huff, Fordsville, KY

Alternate

James Balmer. Smithfield, KY

NEC 14th District

Richard C. Arnos, Sioux Falls, SD

Alternate

H. G. Krosschell, Rapid City, SD

NEC 15th District

Franklin C. Bergquist, Wichita, KS

Alternate

John H. Bickerton, Manchester, MO

NEC 16th District

Dennis W. Weber, Sunland, CA

Alternate

James Bo-an, Seaside, CA

NEC 17th District

Floyd Watson, Jr., Cheyenne. WY

Alternate

Frank Maughan, North, Ogden, UT

NEC 18th District

William D. Brzezinski, Las Vegas. NV

Alternate

Arthur D. Jones. Pahrump. NV

NEC 19th District

Albert H. Buster. Silverdale, WA

Alternate

Ernest E. Hume, Olympia, WA

NEC 20th District

Leroy Hendershot, New Braunfels, TX

Alternate

Vincent C. Morrison, Houston, TX

NEC 21st District

Irvin D. Eddy, Custer City, OK

Alternate

Timothy D. Hedgecock, Lawton, OK

DAV Auxiliary National Officers

2005-2006

National Commander

Judy M. Steinhouse, Fargo, ND

Sr. Vice Commander

Donna M. Tanner, Lynn, MA

1st Jr. Vice Commander

Kathryn A. Wiley. Soap Lake, WA

2nd Jr. Vice Commander

Kay Egan, Lehigh Acres. FL

3rd Jr. Vice Commander

Donna M. Stinnett, Palermo, CA

4th Jr. Vice Commander

Sandra Dobtneier, Grand Forks, ND

National Judge Advocate

Carol A, Gray, Grand Rapids, MI

National Chaplain

Lucita E. Christian, Jamaica, NY

Past National Commander

Gertrude E. Tidwell, Atoka, OK

NEC 1st District

Ellen M. Drogo, Braintree, MA

Alternate

Susan M. Stulsky, Centerville, MA

NEC 2nd District

Deborah L. Barbuto, Liverpool, NY

Alternate

Anita A. Tears, Brockport, NY

NEC 3rd District

Wanda L. Furbish, Portsmouth, NH

Alternate

Sylvia Heath, Mechanic Falls, ME

NEC 4th District

Dorothy L. Kashner, Dover, DE

Alternate

Sandra Schulman, Trenton, NJ

NEC 5th District

Marian A. Sawdey, Eric, PA

Alternate

Cahterine F. Watkins, Middletown, PA

NEC 5th District

Juanita B. Giles, Washington. DC

Alternate

Mildred Velazquez, Caguas, PR

NEC 7th District

Bernadette M. Sorrentino, Palm Bay, FL

Alternate

Marna Rarnshaw, Bradenton, FL

NEC 8th District

Loriece H. Cole, Kenner, LA

Alternate

Linda T. Acosta, Lockport, LA

NEC 9th District

Barbara A. Williams, Hephzibah, GA

Alternate

Harriett Hudson, Summerville, SC

NEC 10th District

Lorene Penennon, Detroit, MI

Alternate

Peggy A. Smith, Day icon, MI

NEC 11th District

Ellen M. Keller, Jackson, OH

Alternate

Marjorie Davies, Alliance, OH

NEC 12th District

Betty L. Buck. Opdyke, IL

Alternate

Sandra Resner, Hanover Park, IL

NEC 13th District

Geneva Walker, Tram, KY

Alternate

Arveeda Y. Gordon, Radcliff, KY

NEC 14th District

LeeAnn B. Karg, Dassel, MN

Alternate

Donna M. Holmquist, Willmar, MN

NEC 15th District

Rose Marie Schilpp, Independence, MO

Alternate

Lei Dean, Dunkerton, IA

NEC 16th District

Florence V Swisher, Rancho Cordova. CA

Alternate

June C. Adema, Sacramento, CA

NEC 17th District

Susan K. Miller, Las Animas, CO

Alternate

Olive R. Tomlin, Las Animas, CO

NEC 18th District

Ruthann Tucker, King man, AZ

Alternate

Yvozne P. Pitts, Tucson, AZ

NEC 19th District

Jeanette M. Carulli, Columbia City, OR

Alternate

Ruth Hammer, Richland, WA

NEC 20th District

Ruth A. Gates, Mesquite, TX

Alternate

Teresa M. Herrle, Seguin, TX

NEC 21st District

Linda Stake, Heber Springs, AR

Alternate

Debra Huddleston, Tushka, OK
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Title Annotation:Annual Convention Highlights
Author:Wilborn, Thom
Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Words:3823
Previous Article:Senate VA funding bill addresses: health care shortfall.
Next Article:New director shoots for 1 million full-paid members.
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