J. Marc Burgess, National Adjutant

Give a vet a job

We’re ages past the old black-and-white newsreels and ads played in movie theaters. These days, most of us are content to kick back on the couch and stream the latest news and entertainment right into our homes.

But I happened to catch a glimpse of a Jimmy Durante clip from 1933 the other day. It was the old classic, “Give a Man a Job” bit, where the comical celebrity huffed out a few bars in support of the now-defunct National Recovery Administration in his well-known, gravelly voice.

The message, of course, was intended to bolster job creation during the Great Depression, when—at the time of this film—unemployment had peaked at 25.6%.

Times now are much different, with a wealth of jobs and a national worker shortage, flipping Durante’s song on its head. Employers must now look to creative hiring initiatives to attract staff to fill vacancies, and talented individuals can take their pick.

While I believe this new dynamic gives our veterans and transitioning service members a distinct advantage in the workforce, this song makes me think just as much about our chapter and department operations as it does about veteran hiring.

One question I hear every year at our mid-winter and national convention events is “How do we attract new members?”

While there’s no single answer, and there’s certainly no magic formula, I think one of the most important aspects of recruiting can be found within Durante’s song. We aren’t recruiting people just to boost our numbers. We’re doing it to strengthen our reach and our ability to serve our community’s veterans and their families.

To do that, we must be willing to give our new members a sense of purpose right from the get-go. We have to find a way to give them a job to do.

I appreciate seeing so many creative new approaches to recruiting members at the local level. Highlighting your varied skills and offering unique programs is a great way to diversify your appeal to potential new DAV members. And while everyone has a different desired level of engagement, we run the risk of losing people if we can’t find ways to put their talents to good use.

The vast majority of veterans don’t surrender their passion for service when they hang up their uniform for the last time. It’s up to us to find ways to inspire our newest members and help them discover ways they can lead, grow and continue to serve.


Learn More

For access to resources to engage and orient new veterans and effectively function as a DAV member leader, visit the Members Only section of dav1dev.wpengine.com.


If you want to find out more about the National Adjutant, you can find his biography here.