This year we have a new slate of line officers aboard, ready to serve.
As your new Commander my first job will be to outline my objectives, and what I believe should be the objectives of this department very clearly.
• Focus on the mission.
• Turn past failures into successes.
• Improve organizational record keeping.
• Make accurate decisions for the future direction and development of this department.
As you know, we are now facing a new generation of disabled American veterans and their families. This current environment presents a unique set of challenges to which we must respond. The explosion of the information super highway and new developments in computer technologies will affect every area of the DAV's operation, from claim advocacy to fundraising. So, the changing needs of an aging veteran population requires adaptation by both the DAV and the federal government, a government increasingly prone to cost cutting, and a government led largely by persons with no military experience and little passion for veteran's issues.
Our hospitals are filled to overflowing with disabled American veterans. The politicians (who we elected) are not putting veterans at the top of their priority list. Our American heroes are forced to wait weeks or months just to see a doctor! So many of us civilians are quick to verbally express our anger, but do nothing, not even a letter or e-mail to our congressman or senator expressing our concerns.
We still must wait years for claims processing. Some people may wonder why a disabled American veteran must face a hard struggle in the VA benefit system. The problem is our elected leaders have to balance all the budgetary demands with the resources available. They pay the closest attention to the loudest voice, and right now the cry is elsewhere. The VA is expected to treat 330,000 vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to World Ware II, Cold War era, Gulf War and Vietnam conflict vets. This must be our priority as disabled veterans. The DAV is a non-partisan organization, but I urge you to work to place veterans high on the public policy agenda.
In closing, we must all be professionals. We must set the example and maintain the highest standards of conduct, integrity and behavior. We must develop and maintain a professional style and positive image. We must continue to promote new membership to insure a strong future for the organization. Remember, our strength is in numbers.
Lastly, we must never forget, our mission will only be complete when the VA is fully funded and every disabled American veteran and his or her family are cared for. May God bless you, your families and our organization? Thank you.
Harris of Hinesville was recently elected commander of Georgia' Department of Disabled American Veterans.