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In Her Time of Need, a Veteran Found Help Through DAV

The first important thing that DAV did for Marine veteran Sara McGaffee was to take the time to hear her. 

“After so many years of trying unsuccessfully to get help, DAV immediately began to help me, listen to me, and send me to the right places with a list of things I needed to address to the physicians in order to get treatment,” McGaffee said.

McGaffee knew very early in life that she wanted to serve her country. The 9/11 attacks happened just three days after her 12th birthday, and the devastation of that day had a profound impact on the young girl.

“I knew then that I wanted to make a difference in the world, and I also knew I was more than capable of making a difference,” McGaffee said.

It was a dream that she followed through on when she turned 17 years old and enlisted to serve. She arrived at Parris Island in June 2008, and went on to serve overseas in Japan, and later Afghanistan. 

But, like so many veterans, transitioning from service to civilian life was difficult for McGaffee. She didn’t always find the support she needed. Because of her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she had a tough time staying employed. She’d made numerous efforts to file a disability claim, but was repeatedly denied. A phone call to DAV changed everything for her.

“I called DAV here in Sioux Falls. I was so tremendously devastated because I knew I was not okay, and I just needed someone to listen,” McGaffee said. “As soon as I showed up for my first appointment, I felt welcomed and listened to.”

Today, McGaffee wants to spread the word to others.

“I wish more veterans would realize that the people at DAV are there to help your healing progress,” McGaffee said. “If you know you are a veteran that needs help, and you go to DAV, they will help you. They are dedicated to their work. I really wish our hurt veterans would reach out to their local DAV offices.”

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