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Disabled American Veterans begin new year

DAV Florida State Commander Guy Diffenbaugh (l) and DAV Region 7, National Executive Committee Director, John Markiewicz administer the oath of office.
DAV Florida State Commander Guy Diffenbaugh (l) and DAV Region 7, National Executive Committee Director, John Markiewicz administer the oath of office.
Earl Stroud

By Michael Isam
St. Augustine, Fla, (April 15, 2014) –Florida DAV State Commander and National Executive Committee Director officiate installation.

“Upon my word and honor, as a member of the Disabled American Veterans, in the presence of Almighty God, and my Comrades, and before the flag of my country, accept the office to which I have been elected or appointed. I promise to perform the duties of such office to the best of my ability. I pledge to act and conduct myself, in such a manner, at all times and places, as will only affect the good of the order… All of which, I now affirm.”

Just a few simple statements that carry the remembrance of every disabled veteran whether known or not.

Guy Diffenbach, Florida State DAV Commander, and John Markiewicz, DAV National Executive Committee Director officiated at the installation of St. Augustine, FL DAV Chapter 6 officers for 2014-2015.

As Markiewicz lead the newly elected officers in repeating the oath, a myriad of memories came forth.

According to the DAV history at it started when a WWI veteran was spotted selling pencils on a street corner. His sign read “Help me, I am a Disabled Veteran.” Records show more than 4.7 million Americans served and 53,500 sacrificed their lives in combat. Accidents and illnesses, mostly deadly influenza, took the lives of another 63,000. An astonishing 204,000 Americans in uniform were wounded during that war.

Not only was the government at a loss about what to do with those it had sent to war, it had very little to spend on programs for the veterans. By the time the war in Europe came to an end in 1918, it had drained our country’s economic resources, sapping 43 percent of the gross national product.

By the following year, four million Americans were jobless. For the next two years, recession and widespread unemployment crippled the American economy. The veterans of World War I came marching home to a country that was not at all geared up to deal with the aftermath of war.

The onset of a horrific epidemic of influenza didn’t help matters at all. Bed space in hospitals charged with treating veterans was severely overtaxed by the combined demand created by the flu epidemic and the need to provide medical care for the war wounded. To resolve this, the government contracted for space in private hospitals.

Some disabled veterans were lucky to get cots in the hallways. Others slept on the
floor. Far too many were simply turned away

Adding to the current monumental numbers of veterans injured in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Desert Shield, today’s numbers for Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom show more than 51,000 servicemembers wounded in action according to a February 19, 2014 report issued by the Congressional Research Service (

“Nationally, we have our work cut out for us,” said Markiewicz. “Locally, our chapters do their best to aid veterans in distress and, with our transportation system, provide free rides for veterans with appointments at the VA Medical Centers in Gainesville and Lake City.” “Continuing on that note,” said Diffenbaugh, “St. Augustine Chapter 6 is one of many DAV Chapters in our state providing that service. We are lucky to have a chapter so dedicated to assisting fellow servicemembers.”

The officers for the 2014-2015 year are Michael Isam, Commander; Judy Davis, Sr. Vice Commander; Shawn Prentiss, Jr. Vice Commander, A. J. Sartin, Treasurer; Art Dubois, Adjutant, Joseph McDermott, Officer of the Day and Rev. Al Deome, Chaplain.

Veterans requiring transportation from St. Augustine to Gainesville should contact the Council on Aging at 904-209-3710 and ask for veteran van scheduling.

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