By Heather Regula, Correspondent
Disabled Veterans of America (DAV) is a non-profit organization that helps over one million veterans each year. At the state level, DAV assists veterans and their families with improving their quality of life, including helping with VA claims. The local chapters enjoy volunteering in their communities. The state level DAV oversees the local chapters by having state and national bylaws to govern what the local chapters do. At the national level, DAV lobbies Congress for veterans’ rights and participates in national events. DAV meets veterans where they are and helps however they can. Gregg Dunham joined the Army in 1976 and spent 38 cumulative years serving his country before retiring in 2014. It was the mission statement of the DAV that motivated Dunham to become involved.
“I liked the idea of helping veterans and joined the DAV. I hadn’t found a chapter to get involved with, and I was a member-at-large in the beginning,” said Dunham. “My wife and I were out for a Sunday drive, and we passed by the DAV Harry L. Axline Jr. Chapter 22 in Nolanville. I didn’t know there was a DAV in Nolanville, so we stopped and went inside. I joined Chapter 22 in Nolanville and began getting more involved.”
In April 2016, Dunham was elected Senior Vice Commander of Chapter 22.
“My duties as Senior Vice Commander were to assist the Commander in building the Chapter,” said Dunham. “I became Commander of the Chapter in October 2016, and I was responsible for the facilitation of the Chapter and its’ members. I would also coordinate with the state level DAV.”
Dunham attended the annual DAV State Convention in June 2017. State officers are elected, and amendments to state organization bylaws are made at the convention.
“I served on the Credentialing Committee at the state convention – we reviewed the eligibility of present members and their ability to vote,” said Dunham. “I had not intended to run for state office this year. I was approached by a DAV state official and asked to present myself to the nominating committee. I gave a verbal resume and spur of the moment decided to give it a whirl, not expecting anything.”
During the elections, the whole convention comes together, and Dunham was surprised to learn that he had been nominated for state level Jr. Vice Commander, and unanimously voted into the role.
“As Jr. Vice Commander, I am Chairman of the Local Veterans Assistance Program (LVAP). As Chairman of LVAP, I will be working towards ensuring that chapters are correctly reporting all the things they are doing. There are a lot of chapters out there doing great things for veterans, and we want to make sure that we are tracking it correctly. Proper documentation is critical,” explained Dunham. “Among other things, I will also conduct installation swearing in of officers as a representative of the state DAV.”
Gregg Dunham is a humble man who loves his country and is motivated by the words of the DAV mission statement “…empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. We accomplish this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life.”
“My goal is to help other veterans in any way that I can. I want people to know that there is a DAV chapter in Nolanville that serves veterans in eastern Bell County, including Temple, Belton, Salado, and numerous small towns. We are out there doing great things for veterans and their families,” said Dunham.
Interested veterans can contact DAV Chapter 22 on their Facebook page “Disabled American Veterans of Nolanville, TX” or by calling DAV Chapter 22 at (254)698-6990. There is a free luncheon, open to all veterans and their families, on the third Saturday of each month beginning at 1:30 pm.