Diane J. Franz, Auxiliary National Commander

Overcoming the obstacles

In the two years I have served as the DAV Auxiliary national commander, we as an organization have overcome so much. Of course, the pandemic cast a cloud over much of my tenure, but it did not stop us from achieving our goals. Instead, it challenged us all as an organization to grow and, through that, revealed our many strengths.

I look at moments like our 2020 Virtual Salute, which took the place of our national convention, as an example of our ability to adapt. On a last-minute pivot, with the fantastic efforts at national headquarters and from our members at home, we were able to offer many of the same informational events and recognitions that we have always done. We were able to celebrate those who went above and beyond for our organizations.

The DAV 5K was still able to take place all around the country this year. The event was made possible by the entire organization’s efforts from the top down to the units and chapters throughout the country. The 3-mile race raised awareness for this organization on new platforms, both virtually and throughout your communities.

I think of the fact that we can celebrate DAV’s centennial from inside the walls of Memorial Hall in Cincinnati, where the organization was founded, to chapters, units and homes everywhere. Much like the beginnings of DAV and the Auxiliary, we face new challenges every day.

These challenges, though, are part of our history. Without the need to improve the lives of veterans, DAV would never have come into existence. Without the needed aid and support from veterans’ families, we at the Auxiliary would never have become DAV’s partner for nearly a century of service. At our very roots, this organization thrives in times of hardship. It is what we do, and we must continue to overcome in times such as these.

My pride in this organization and the success we have had in my tenure as commander would be nothing without the people I’ve worked with during this time. I want to thank Auxiliary National Adjutant Pat Kemper, Assistant Adjutant Bunny Clos, Ann Glende, and the Auxiliary national officers and chairpersons. Without your support, many of these achievements would not have come to fruition.

I also want to thank DAV and DAV Auxiliary Department of Florida officers and members. I especially want to thank the Central Florida DAV Chapter and Auxiliary Unit 16, where I call home. Of course, I want to congratulate DAV National Headquarters for all the incredible work they do. Thank you to my family, Mark, Sharon, Owen and Wyatt. Thank you for understanding my often chaotic schedule over the years.

Finally, thank you to the members. Without you, none of this is possible. Because of you, generations of veterans and their families have been able to transition back to civilian life with the benefits and recognition they deserve.