No Matter The Need

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History Of The DAV

"A man or woman good enough to shed his blood for his or her country,
is good enough to received a square deal afterwards."
Theodore Roosevelt
   Updated to include women.





The History of Disabled American Veterans

No Matter The Need

 “Whatever the war, whatever the politics, whatever the injury,

the DAV marches to the mandate of the veteran’s need.”

The beginnings of Disabled American Veterans followed the wake of World War I, when thousands of American doughboys came home to an America that was not prepared to care for the carnage of war.  More than 4.7 million Americans served, 53,500 were lost in combat.  Accidents and illnesses (mostly from the deadly Spanish flu pandemic) took the lives of 63,000.  More than 200,000 soldiers were wounded during the war.

America was not prepared to go to war or face its aftermath, especially caring for the sick and wounded.  Months after returning home, half of the 4 million soldiers were released from military service.  With the country drained of its economic resources due to the war, there was little funding available to help war veterans in search of employment and medical care.  Within a year, 4 million Americans were jobless, broke and past hope.  Recession and unemployment crippled the American economy. As a result, veterans were left to fend for themselves, especially those who were disabled.  Jobs were almost nonexistent for these men.

The few government agencies charged with responsibility for veterans were under funded, often working at cross-purposes and required veterans seeking help to complete an abundance of bureaucratic paperwork, much to the dismay of veterans.  Many gave up, finding themselves having to look to each other for help.  It was in this environment that groups of disabled veterans gathered together across the country, some for social purposes, others working to raise money and create jobs for their comrades.

The Ohio Mechanics Institute (OMI), a training school for disabled veterans, asked for help from celebrated disabled veterans.  Enter Cincinnati-born Captain Robert S. Marx, a wounded veteran who upon recovery returned to his law practice in Cincinnati, won a Superior Court judgeship and became the champion of the disabled veterans cause. He was an exceptional organizer, a captain of industry and a natural born leader.

In 1920, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Disabled American Veterans of the World War (DAV/WW).  A year later, he called a caucus of disabled veteran groups from around the nation.  The caucus of 250 veterans met in Cincinnati and created a national organization, which was divided into state and local chapters.  Judge Marx traveled to some 32 states to build local chapters.

His tireless efforts in this endeavor earned him the title of the “Father of the DAV.” The history of the DAV is the story of victory and defeat, success and near disaster, but always the commitment to build better lives for disabled veterans and their families. By holding to this single purpose the DAV is today the finest veterans service organization in the world—offering free services to millions of veterans each year.

It’s often been said that “what is past, is prologue.”  For the Disabled American Veterans, the outstanding achievement of its past 85 years is a remarkable testimonial for its future.


James Wise, Captain, USN Retired









The above graphics are the marks and property of the Disabled American Veterans "DAV."