Military Wiki
Disabled American Veterans
The seal of the DAV
The official seal of the DAV
Formation September 25, 1920; ago (1920-09-25)
Type NGO
Headquarters Cold Spring, Kentucky
National Commander
Joseph W. Johnston

The Disabled American Veterans, or DAV, is an organization chartered by the United States Congress for disabled military Veterans of the United States Armed Forces that helps them and their families through various means. It currently has over 1.2 million members. Charity Navigator does not rate the DAV as it is a 501(c)(4) organization. It does rate the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust.[1]


In the aftermath of World War I, disabled veterans in the United States found themselves seriously disadvantaged, with little governmental support.[2] Many of this veterans were blind, deaf, or mentally ill when they returned from the frontlines. An astonishing 204,000 Americans in uniform were wounded during the war. The idea to form the Disabled American Veterans arose at a Christmas party in 1920 hosted by Cincinnati Superior Court Judge Robert Marx, a U.S. Army Captain who had been injured in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in November 1918. Although it had been functional for some months by that time, the Disabled American Veterans of the World War (DAVWW) was officially created on September 25, 1921, at its first National Caucus, in Hamilton County Memorial Hall in Cincinnati.[3] While touring across the U.S. as part of the election campaign of James M. Cox, Judge Marx publicized the new organization, which quickly expanded. It held its first national convention in Detroit on June 27, 1921, at which time Marx was appointed the first national commander. In 1922, a women's auxiliary organization was founded. The DAVWW continued working through the Great Depression to secure the welfare of disabled veterans, although their efforts were troubled by fundraising challenges and the desire of the public to put the World War behind them. In the midst of these troubled years, DAVWW was issued a federal charter by Congress, on June 17, 1932.[4]

DAV Thrift Store, Westland, Michigan

The demands of World War II required the urgent expansion of the organization, which officially changed its name to Disabled American Veterans to recognize the impact of the new war.[5] In 1941, DAV launched a direct mail campaign, distributing "IdentoTags", miniature license plates which could be attached to a keyring with instructions that lost keys should be mailed to the DAVWW, who would return them to the owners.[4] In 1944, the DAV began offering a National Service Officer Training Program at American University in Washington, the first step of education that completed with a two-year mentorship program. In 1945, the DAV expanded the Idento Tag program and brought the manufacturing in-house, eventually purchasing complete ownership of the program in 1950. The program proved long-lasting and highly successful, both in bringing in donations and employing veterans in manufacture. By 1952, 350 people were employed in the endeavor, which brought in over $2 million a year in donations.[4] Meanwhile, the number of disabled veterans had been increased by the still-ongoing Korean War.[6]

The DAV suffered a decline in the later 1950s and into the 1960s, with diminishing leadership and funds, but it rallied around the veterans of the Vietnam War and also focused heavily on working for prisoners of war and missing in action.[6] Vietnam veterans soon filled the diminished ranks of the National Service Officers. On Veterans Day, 1966, the DAV moved its headquarters to Cold Spring, Kentucky. The following year, the IdentoTag program was discontinued in favor of providing address labels, with a request for donation, when changes in license plate practices made continuing the IdentoTag program impracticable. The DAV underwent substantial change in 1993, when internal arguments concerning the governance of the organization led to a watershed election that turned over the administration to new hands and the National Service Program was overhauled.[7]


A military certificate inspired the official DAV seal.

The organization's seal has since its foundation featured a World War I soldier, armed, kneeling before Columbia, who dubs the man knight. The logo design was taken from certificates used in World War I for sick and wounded veterans.[5] A painting by Edwin Blashfield, commissioned by Woodrow Wilson, the certificate featured above the words "Columbia Gives to Her Son the Accolade of the New Chivalry of Humanity" and, below, the words "Served With Honor in the World War and Was Wounded in Action."[8]

Benefits Assistance

The Disabled American Veterans Organization provides service free of charge through a nationwide network of 88 DAV National Service Offices, 38 Transition Service Offices, 198 DAV Hospital Service Coordinator Offices, 52 state-level DAV Departments, 249 DAV VA Voluntary Service Representatives, and more than 1900 local DAV Chapters.

  • The Disability Transition Assistance Program (DTAP) service provide free assistance to servicemembers at VA intake site locations in military installations by Disabled American Veterans Transition Service Officers (TSO) with treatment records, and confer with the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Labor facilitators and other participants in the Military discharge process.
  • Assistance completion and mailing of United States Department of Veterans Affairs VA forms on behalf of the veteran, servicemember or survivor.
  • Response guidance for research and questions to veterans involving any type of disability compensation and medical services from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) for service-connected disabilities claims.
  • Response guidance to veterans, their families and survivors about the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), Disability Compensation, VA Pension programs, Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI), Burial and Interment Allowances, Education Programs such as the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Post-Vietnam Era Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP), VA Home Loans, The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program or other miscellaneous benefits at the VA Regional Office (VARO).
  • Assistance to veterans in reopening and filing completed claims for service-connected or non-service-connected disabilities.
  • Assistance for completion the VA Form for veterans that are eligible Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits.
  • Assistance to veterans/survivors who are filing any type of claim (original or otherwise) for benefits, compensation and/or pension with the VA.
  • Filing of Notice of Disagreement forms with the VA Regional Office for veterans.
  • Assistance to veterans and/or surviving spouses to prepare and file appeals for claim denial with the VA Regional Office and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims board in Washington, D.C.
  • Assistance in follow-up on status of claims filed by veterans with the VA Regional Office.
  • Free review of VA denials of claim and filing of appropriate responses.
  • Transportation free of charge for veterans provided by the DAV Transportation Network to ensure that wounded or ill veterans attend their medical appointments at VA hospitals and clinics. The DAV Transportation Network is administered by DAV Hospital Service Coordinators (HSCs).
  • A free copy of the official bimonthly publication DAV Magazine.
  • Assistance during major disasters; i.e., tornadoes, floods, etc.

Outreach Programs

Mobile Service Office

The DAV's Mobile Service Office (MSO) Program is designed to bring assistance for disabled veterans and their families living in geographic rural areas on veterans' benefits, filing claims and services closer to home by eliminating long trips for veterans to the National Service Offices. The DAV's specially equipped Mobile Service Offices "offices on wheels" visits communities acorting to the MSO locations schedule.

Veterans Information Seminars

This outreach program is to educate veterans and their families who are unaware on veterans government benefits and programs, counseling and claims filing assistance service by DAV's National Service Officers (NSO) at communities throughout the country. Veterans Information Seminars are free of charge to all veterans and do not have to be a member of DAV to take this service. DAV's Veterans Information Seminars are held at Local DAV Chapters and Community Centers.

Homeless Veterans Initiative

The Disabled American Veterans Homeless Veterans Initiative is supported by the DAV's Charitable Service Trust and the Columbia Trust, This initiative promotes the development of supportive housing and necessary services to assist homeless veterans become productive, self-sufficient members of society. The DAV works with Federal, state, county, and city governments to develop programs to assist homeless veterans. It also cordinates with the VA to get health care, substance abuse treatment, mental health services to put homeless veterans in transition to productive members of their community.

DAV Disaster Relief Grants

DAV Disaster relief grants may be issued for the purpose of providing: food, clothing, and temporary shelter or to obtain relief from injury, illness, or personal loss resulting from natural/national disasters that are not covered by insurance or other disaster relief agencies. Since the DAV disaster relief grants program inception in 1968, $8.7 million has been disbursed to veterans that suffered losses during natural disasters.

  • The applicant must be the victim of a natural/national disaster.
  • The applicant must be a service-connected disabled veteran or the spouse thereof (same household).
  • The applicant’s claimed loss must not be covered by insurance.
  • The applicant’s claimed loss must not be covered by other emergency relief agencies.

DAV Auxiliary

The DAV Auxiliary is the sister organization of the Disabled American Veterans. Its mission statement is "Making a difference in the lives of disabled veterans and their families". Members of the DAV Auxiliary include mothers, wives, sisters, widows, daughters, stepdaughters, granddaughters and legally adopted female lineal descendants of members of the Disabled American Veterans. Members of the DAV Auxiliary actively participate in programs such as Americanism, The DAV Transportation Network, Veterans Information Seminars, Community Service and Voluntary Service at Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, Outpatient Clinics and Community Based Outpatient Clinics.

Junior Members

Junior members of the DAV Auxiliary consist of boys and girls 17 years of age or under. They are eligible for membership through a family member who served in the U.S. military and was honorably discharged. The Junior members of the DAV Auxiliary can also assist activities outside of school by participating in social events at VA Medical Facilities and VA Community Living Centers, Parades, Flag Ceremonies, Welcome Home events.

Jesse Brown Scholarship

The Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship Program honors outstanding young volunteers who are active participants in the Department of Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service programs. The scholarships are awarded to deserving young men and women who have donated their time and compassion to injured and ill veterans in their communities. This scholarship was established in memory of U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Secretary of Veterans Affairs and DAV Deputy National Service Director, Jesse Brown.


  1. "Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust". Charity Nagivator. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  2. "Wars and Scars Chapter 1". Disabled American Veterans. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  3. "Wars and Scars Chapter 2". Disabled American Veterans. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Wars and Scars Chapter 3". Disabled American Veterans. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Wars and Scars Chapter 4". Disabled American Veterans. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Wars and Scars Chapter 5". Disabled American Veterans. Retrieved 13 January 2011.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "five" defined multiple times with different content
  7. "Wars and Scars Chapter 9". Disabled American Veterans. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  8. "Official Ritual of the Disabled American Veterans". Disabled American Veterans. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 

Robert F. Marx (born December 8, 1933) is one of the pioneer American scuba divers and is best known for his work with shipwrecks and sunken treasure. Was not the founder as the previous link to that name implied.

External links

  • DAV homepage
  • Compliance News A national internet publication that promotes the interests of Disabled Veterans and provides lists of federal and state jobs that are looking to hire Veteran sub contractors.

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