Real Veterans. Real Stories. Real Victories.
Mike Hert and Adam Alexander
The last time Lt. Col. Mike Hert heard Army Sgt. Adam Alexander’s voice, it was over a conference call from Paktia Province, Afghanistan.
“Adam said he had to go because they were under attack,” Mike recalls.
“I remember Mike saying keep your head down,” says Adam. It would be one of the last things he remembered before the events that changed his life forever took place.
Adam survived the attack, but he was badly wounded and had to endure several major surgeries as a result. While he was navigating an extensive and grueling rehabilitation, Mike was finishing up his deployment, and the two lost contact.
That is until an email about a DAV service project seeking mentors for a veterans treatment court reconnected them.
DAV is an organization of veterans helping veterans. Mike and Adam now co-mentor veterans going through the Outagamie Veterans Treatment Court and get together about once a week.
Here’s what they have to say about their experience:
“I was experiencing a bitter taste from being retired and missed being [a noncommissioned officer] and being with my guys. DAV built that camaraderie and was an excuse for us to spend more time together,” Adam said.
“We don’t discuss Afghanistan as much — it’s more about what we are doing now,” Mike said. “Adam is immersing himself in the [DAV] chapter. He has a deep passion and commitment for his fellow veterans, and he makes an immediate connection with everybody that he meets.”
A complex chain of events often leads a veteran into homelessness. Service-related health conditions can result in unemployment that potentially invites substance abuse issues and financial or legal struggles, ultimately leaving the veteran unable to afford housing and creating a cycle that’s difficult to break.
However, a single act can be the catalyst in a chain reaction that puts a veteran back on track. Navy veteran Joseph Lightwies was homeless for decades, but connecting with DAV National Service Officer (NSO) Joe Kauffman in 2015 proved to be the spark that changed his life for the better.
“When someone has been struggling as much as Joseph was, you do whatever you can to help the veteran receive a favorable outcome as quickly as possible,” said Joe, a Marine Corps veteran himself. “Finding Joseph a place to live and helping him get back on his feet was critical.”
“I became an NSO so I could help veterans like Joseph,” added Joe.
“DAV had literally changed my life,” said Joseph. “Joe was there for me when it mattered most. I would not be here if it wasn’t for him and DAV.”
Dr. Lisa Kirk Brown
Says Lisa: I’m proud to say I served as a medical officer in the USAF, USAF Reserves, and Air National Guard (ANG) during my military career, which spanned three decades.
In 1999, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Then, in 2013, I discovered the medication I was taking caused me to get Lupus. I was devastated … and afraid.
Although I retired from the ANG, I hadn’t applied for my VA benefits until a DAV Service Officer explained to me that I qualified for them. As a career military member and a retiree, I felt stupid that I didn’t know more about veterans’ benefits. My service officer was so kind, he explained to me that many service men and women are unaware of the benefits they’ve earned. And not just veterans who are injured in combat – those with chronic illnesses like me, too.
DAV is truly the best service organization. Not only do they impact veteran’s lives on a personal level, they also advocate for legislation that protects and provides benefits to disabled veterans. That is why I chose to become a lifetime member and contribute to DAV whenever possible through advocacy, service, and financial giving.