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November 09, 2012


Disability Employment Awareness Month observed with luncheon Oct. 25

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) representatives explained the scope of their state and local programs during a Disability Employment Awareness Month luncheon Oct. 25 at Fort McCoy.

Sue Bickford, Army Reserve Equal Employment Office Director at Fort McCoy, said as a Soldier who served a tour of duty in Iraq she encountered many Soldiers who would need those services when they returned from duty. DAV representatives were invited to the luncheon to present programs available to disabled veterans and their Families.
PHOTO: A Fort McCoy audience listens to a presentation about the Disabled American Veterans Program. Photo by Anita Johnson
A Fort McCoy audience listens to a presentation about the Disabled American Veterans Program at an Oct. 25 luncheon.
(Photo by Anita Johnson)

Although Bickford served in Operation New Dawn, which occurred after the combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Soldiers were injured through accidents or training.

“DAV was there for them when they got back,” Bickford said. “They help disabled veterans get access to the resources available to help them.”

Bickford said she appreciated the services DAV offers.

John Fredrickson, DAV Wisconsin commander, said the national organization traces its origination to World War I veterans ensuring every disabled veteran of that conflict received their earned benefits. The DAV is celebrating 92 years of existence.

“Today, the DAV builds better lives for disabled veterans and their Families,” Fredrickson said. “We help ensure they get the benefits they are entitled to and represent their interests (throughout the political process at both federal and local levels).”

DAV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that does not receive government funding. Fredrickson said all DAV services are provided free to disabled veterans through donations and by volunteers.

The services include free counseling to disabled veterans to help them navigate the federal benefits process and other benefits available through the government, he said.

Past Commander Roger Dorman spoke about the DAV van transportation program that ensures disabled veterans have transportation available. Volunteer drivers are available at Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMC) to transport disabled veterans to their medical appointments.

DAV also provides services such as educational assistance to disabled veterans. For more information about federal DAV benefits, visit the website www.dva.org. The organization is accredited by the Better Business Bureau of America (bbb.org/charity).

Charles Geszvain, the Monroe County Chapter 27 DAV commander who represents Fort McCoy, said the county organization was celebrating its 75th anniversary. The organization holds fundraisers, and members serve as volunteers at various county events, such as the Tractor Pull, to raise funds to support veterans, Geszvain said. This includes helping to support transportation needs of veterans being served through the Tomah VAMC. The group also supports local organizations, such as Boys and Girls Clubs and the Tomah Police Department, in special events they hold.

Curtis Gibeaut Sr., district commander, talked about the National Service Office, which files veterans claims for disability, schooling and other programs for those returning to the state after duty supporting deployment operations.

The NSO, which opens and appeals claims for veterans at no charge, can be contacted at 414-902-5736.

For more information about the chapter, including meeting times, contact Gibeaut at 545 Mill St., Tomah, WI 54660, call him at 608-387-3388 (608-567-0217), or send e-mail to Curtis.Gibeaut.Sr@msn.com.

Garrison Commander Col. Steven W. Nott lauded the DAV as a powerful and professional organization that represents veterans very well. It serves disabled veterans, who are an important part of the Fort McCoy Community.

In honor of their work, Nott presented the DAV representatives with a special certificate that is the equivalent of an Army Achievement Medal.

The Army Reserve EEO sponsored the Disability Awareness Month luncheon program. For more information, call 608-388-3107.

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