Baker new state leader of DAV in North DakotaThe North Dakota Disabled American Veterans chose a Jamestown man last weekend as its new leader. The 90th DAV and Auxiliary Convention was held here.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
The North Dakota Disabled American Veterans chose a Jamestown man last weekend as its new leader.
The 90th DAV and Auxiliary Convention was held here.
Dana Baker was elected department commander to lead the 5,000 disabled veterans across North Dakota in the DAV for one year.
Baker, a petty officer second class in the Navy, spent 30 months in Vietnam and as a result of his service, developed complications from exposure to the defoliation compound Agent Orange.
During his term he said he will advocate veterans to see if they qualify for disability and work for DAV members to get involved, be informed and serve in their local chapters.
“I’d like to see our membership increase,” he said.
More members mean more support and a stronger voice to help veterans and their families, Baker said.
DAV members range from World War II veterans to veterans who have served in the current Middle East conflicts, he said.
Baker said one of his primary concerns is for military personal serving in Afghanistan.
“It’s a dangerous place. I think there’s going to be a lot of injuries from those house-to-house, search-and-destroy missions,” he said. “I think this is on the forefront for those veterans. It’s not a safe bet you’re going to get through without some kind of injury.”
At the convention 40 resolutions were discussed to help disabled veterans and active duty service members who might one day join the DAV.
The DAV state legislative chair will contact the congressional delegation and let them know what the DAV supports.
The first resolution would support allowing the widows of veterans the ability to collect both a Department of Veterans Affairs monthly stipend and the survivor benefit plan, Baker said.
Current law allows for widows to collect only one form of payment. The VA monthly stipend and the survivor benefit plan are two separate programs for two separate purposes.
Another resolution opposes lump-sum payments for injuries, because injuries could linger for decades after the lump sum runs out, Baker said.
A resolution calling for the adjustment of an automobile allowance that hasn’t been adjusted in 40 years is another concern, he said.
Helping veterans through supporting legislation is only part of what the DAV does, Baker said.
“It’s an organization of veterans helping veterans and their families,” he said.
Any medical costs associated with a service-connected injury are covered by the federal government and the DAV has a professional claims department to help guarantee that, he said.
A disabled veteran will file a claim, get his disability rated for what percent he is limited in the workforce and receive compensation ac-cordingly, Baker said. But the process can take more than a month, and if there is a mistake is filing it can take even longer. Some appeals can last years.
“Claims need to be sped up, there’s such a backlog of claims they need to have better rating boards,” he said.
Proper medical care for veterans is a concern Baker has but current programs in place and the strong VA Medical Center in Fargo help to relieve the need. That part of the program is working well, he said.
The DAV also offers counseling for mental issues as well as physical ones for disabled veterans.
“The toll it takes on family, you have to deal with that. Any stress that gives you problems is going to affect your family too,” Baker said.
Having professionals as-sist with claims, legislative experts working to change laws, a group that’s willing to volunteer to help veterans and their families and a camaraderie between members from different conflicts is what Baker said he sees in the DAV.
“I think it’s the biggest and best organization for disabled veterans and it’s personally gratifying to know you have someone like that working for you,” Baker said.
Those interested in joining the DAV can ask a member for information.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com