CLAREMORE, OKLA.— One post on the Claremore DAV Facebook page says it all, “Veterans helping veterans.” They have first-hand experience and understanding of the issues impacting those who have served our country.
Their mission statement is simple,
“Made up exclusively of men and women disabled in our nation’s defense, the Disabled American Veterans is dedicated to one single purpose: building better lives for all of our nation’s disabled veterans and their families.”
The Disabled American Veterans organization was founded in 1920 as the “Disabled American Veterans of the World War” and was issued a federal charter by Congress, on June 17, 1932. With the onset of World War II, the organization officially changed its name to Disabled American Veterans to recognize the veterans of the new war.
The DAV is a national 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization with nearly 1,300 chapters, that provides a national support network for veterans and their families.
Serving more than 1 million veterans each year, helping them get benefits, like health care, education and disability, and employment opportunities. In 2017, the DAV helped process more than a quarter million claims, resulting in more than $4 billion in new and retroactive benefits to care for veterans, their families and survivors..
“The VA is is a federal organization that is a typical government red tape,” says Cliff Crawford, Chaplin for DAV Chapter 44 in Claremore. “But it is so large, that they have trouble taking care of the business, just because of the size of it. There’s millions (of veterans) involved.”
Crawford and Chapter Commander, C.J. Masters are also Service Officers with the Veterans of Foreign Wars. While most veterans have a positive view of their military service, only one-in-five feel the government treats veterans well and less than half believe they’re getting the benefits and support they were promised.
“Knowing the rules and playing by them is what our strength is here,” says Crawford. “The veteran, trying to work with a government bureaucracy, is taking a knife to a gun fight. As it would be with any other government programs, it’s a nightmare.”
The DAV helps veterans in many ways. Helping returning veterans transition back to civilian life, linking them with services that address their physical, emotional, and financial needs. Providing free, professional assistance to veterans of all generations in obtaining VA and other government benefits earned through service. Working with government representatives for veterans’ rights in Washington. Helping veterans find job training and assistance programs. Funding rehabilitation programs for veterans with severe disabilities, such as blindness or amputation. Providing transportation for veterans needing help getting to appointments.
Claremore’s Chapter 44, also works with the Claremore Veterans Center to host their annual fish fry and other events for the residents and the community at-large. They work with the local VFW and American Legion posts to help veterans with temporary financial problems and services for homeless veterans.
“You can get help from the DAV even if you’re not disabled,” says Crawford. “You can come here for any kind of advice, information about government programs and never have to join us, and it’s free.”
All you need is proof of service to show that you are a veteran or a family member of a veteran. The most common document is a DD-214 discharge form.
“And we want widows to know that just because the husband is gone doesn’t mean they’re alone,” says Crawford. “We’re here for them, as long as it takes.”
Throughout its history, membership has slowly decreased during the long periods between major combat operations and drastically increased during times for war. As the number of WWII veterans decline, Vietnam veterans now makeup the majority of members, but they’re ready to pass the mission to the new generation of veterans, of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Although you don’t have to be a member to get assistance from the DAV, “membership has its privileges,” as they say. Membership is open to any man or woman who served in the armed forces during a period of war or under conditions simulating war, and was wounded, disabled to any degree, or left with long-term illness as a result of military service, and was discharged or retired from military service under honorable conditions. Member advantages include discounted goods and services from Ford Motor Company, T-Mobile, USAA,Identity Guard, 1-800-FLOWERS and more. As a DAV Member, you have access to a variety of important programs, and a subscription to DAV Magazine.
If you, or someone you know needs help call (918) 342-8990, or you can walk in, Tuesdays or Thursdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Claremore Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Chapter 44 is located at 801 W. Dupont (behind Pixley Lumber).