DAV hopes flag will be a beacon

Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Completing a project that was begun six months ago, members of the Suffolk Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans dedicated their new 35-foot flagpole Tuesday, during a Veterans Day celebration.

“It’s the significance of the day,” said Chapter 5 Commander Dennis Godwin. “What better day to dedicate a flag than Veterans Day?”

About a dozen DAV members were on hand for a quick ceremony Tuesday morning. Following a moment of silence in honor of soldiers who were killed in battle, Chaplain Roosevelt Britt offered a prayer thanking God for the men and women of the DAV and asking that the flag serve as a “beacon of Chapter 5” throughout the city of Suffolk and to all its veterans.

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The flag project was the first item on the agenda of Godwin and his fellow officers when they were elected to office back in May. The chapter is also working to bring back a scholarship fund, and leaders hope to partner with the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army for community activities, such as blood drives or volunteer programs.

Those projects will be in addition to the services the chapter already provides, such as holding biweekly soup kitchens open to everyone in the community and transporting veterans to the Veterans Affairs Hospital to get medical treatment, even though the closest VA hospital is in Hampton.

Volunteers at the DAV also help veterans fill out, find or get copies of their DD-214 forms. The DD-214 form provides proof that a service member has served in a branch of the armed forces and was honorably discharged. This form qualifies veterans for their benefits.

The officers say these projects will bring more attention and more awareness of the role DAV plays for veterans. They also hope the projects will help to bring new members to the chapter and enhance its active membership.

Right now, the Suffolk Chapter DAV has 258 members. There are more than 1.2 million members in more than 2,000 chapters across the country. Some of those chapters have upwards of 2,000 members.

Godwin has routinely said the city has plenty of veterans who are in need of the DAV’s help, but that they have to know where to find it.

“People will see this flag across the city,” Godwin said. “And, hopefully, that’ll help (the veterans) come and find us.”