A legacy gift of doing for others
Melissa Pierce’s parents—both veterans and DAV members—taught her and her sibling the importance of giving of their time and doing for others.
“[With] both of my parents, being active in DAV, it meant we kids were also,” says Pierce. As a child, she remembers pitching in with activities for veterans such as the Christmas party at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health System in Iowa.
“I can only speak for myself, but I think this is where my volunteerism drive all began,” says Pierce. “I was taught to ‘do.’ Do what had to be done, do what was right, just do—not for the recognition, but because it was the right thing.”
Her parents, Francis “Mac” Pierce, who was in the Army Reserves and Marines, and her mother Judith McLaskey, a Navy nurse, met after when his unit in Vietnam was ambushed. While crossing enemy lines to aid a fallen Corpsman, with mortars exploding around him, he was struck with shrapnel in the eye, leg, and head. He was medevaced to the Philippines, then San Diego, and finally to Portsmouth Naval Hospital in New Hampshire where his future wife was stationed.
Those injuries derailed his military career but introduced the next chapter of his life. He and his wife then went on to teach their children the spirit of giving, leading by example.
“My dad was a doer and a giver, not a taker. DAV was an outlet where he could be with other veterans, help other veterans, and feel like he was doing something says, Pierce. “He did want to make sure that others did get what they needed and deserved.”
Today, and certainly during this holiday season, Pierce can be found carrying on the legacy of her gracious and caring parents.
“In April 2012, my dad passed away. I suddenly lost my partner in crime,” says Pierce. “I don’t know if I was looking for something to fill the void or what, but DAV Auxiliary did. All of these members kept coming up to my mom and me to tell us how much he meant to them, how much he impacted them.”
Pierce knew that doing something—giving back—was the way to fill the void that was left when her father passed away. She found herself stepping up and becoming actively involved with DAV.
“DAV and the Auxiliary work to help veterans and their families. This is and always has been their first priority,” says Pierce. “Whether it is helping at the local level, volunteering [at the] local VA, helping veterans during natural disasters, advocating for veterans legislation or supporting the VA adaptive veteran programs like Winter Sports Clinic and now the TEE Tournament or whatever other capacity they can—veterans are always first.”