Every day dawns unending support for America’s veterans

MILTON — America’s military holds a special spot in the heart of Dawn Drzewicki, a U.S. Army veteran.

District 4 commander Dawn Drzewicki VFW 2

U.S. Army veteran Dawn Drzewicki is the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Delaware District 4 Commander – the first female district commander in the state.

And in veterans’ organizations, she holds a pioneering position with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in her second year serving as the Department of Delaware District 4 Commander.

Ms. Drzewicki – “born and bred in Sussex County” – is a 1978 Indian River High School graduate. She is from Selbyville and currently resides in Bayard, near Roxana.

Married, she has a daughter who spent six years in the Navy, a son-in-law who was 10-year Navy and three grandkids whom she hopes will strongly consider military service.

“Yes they might. We keep pushing,” said Ms. Drzewicki.

Here is Dawn Drzewicki:

Your family’s military service has deep roots?

“I come from a long history of military people, all the way back to the American Revolution. I am actually a member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution). I can trace every generation that has fought in American wars ever since the American Revolution.”

You entered the military shortly after graduation?

“I went into the service on the day of my 18th birthday, which was July 23, 1978. I served active duty until March 29, 1984 … and I did two years of Reserve after that – Army Reserves. It was different back then than the National Guard. I left with rank as a ‘specialist.’ I was a Military Police officer, a traffic accident ‘investigationist’ and ‘reconstructionist.’”

What did you do after your military service?

“I worked a lot of different things. When I got out of the military I had a broken neck. I broke my neck in the line of duty. So I went back to college, and got a degree in engineering … and now I am basically retired. Because of my health I had to retire.”

Talk about your VFW connections:

“I grew up at VFW Mason Dixon Post 7234, but I am now with the Milton VFW Post 6984.”

As District Commander, you gender-wise are a “first” in the First State?

“Yes, I am the first female district commander for the state of Delaware. This is my second year serving as the District Commander for the VFW, District 4, which is all of the Sussex County. I have seven VFWs and approximately 2,400 members that under my command, I guess.”

What are your duties, responsibilities as District 4 Commander?

“Basically, I take all of the state requirements from the state commander and the national programs and instruct, educate and help all of my post commanders to fulfill all of the VFW programs and keep them in line with our national by-laws.”

What are some of those programs?

“We have a Voice of Democracy and a Patriots Pen. Patriots Pen is for sixth to eighth graders; the Voice of Democracy is for ninth through 12th grade.

They are national programs. The national winner wins like a $30,000 scholarship for school. They win money locally, they go up locally through the posts, the district and state and then they get to nationals.”

“One of the mantras of the VFW is to teach the children, teach our young about what our veterans have done and the things we have sacrificed for their freedoms.”

What are the programs supporting veterans?

“Each post has a relief fund that we help our local veterans. We do Buddy Poppy drives; we take that money that is donated for the poppies and that in turn helps all of our veterans in need locally.

“I work a lot with a lot of the younger veterans that are coming back now as far as helping them get their benefits as far as getting them enrolled in the VA (Veterans Administration) healthcare system, getting them enrolled in college so they can use their GI benefit and basically helping them get whatever they need to help them continue in society.”

You go the extra mile in helping today’s veterans returning from combat:

“My big thing is to stop the “22 A Day” – approximately 22 kids that commit suicide every day because of the horrific horrors that they have suffered while they were in the military and in war. That is the national average- 22 a day. A lot of it is from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) and not being able to handle the nightmares or the horrors that they have seen. When they come to life here in the United States it is totally different in a war zone. I post a lot of veterans stuff on Facebook because I fully believe we need to help these kids come back.”

A chapter of the VFW charter salutes those who have sacrificed?

“At our VFW meetings, we remember the memory and history of our dead; we remember what was done and to teach. It is one of the cornerstones of the VFW, to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead. We must teach our younger people. We must let them know the sacrifices the veterans have made for their freedom.”

“You are speaking English because of a veteran. That’s being totally blunt. The history is the most important thing we have to teach our children. And our biggest history is how we have the right to do the things we do – that is all because of a veteran.”

Do you have any closing thoughts?

“If you ever go into a VFW post, an American Legion, AMVETS or whatever and just sit around and listen to the old guys, you’ll hear some wonderful stories. That is what the posts and legions and everything do, they give the veterans the ability to have someone that has been in the same thing they have and it gives them the chance to open up and talk. And it is the camaraderie about it all. When you are in the military you are with a group of people that you go all through training with, and if you go to war you end up going to war with those same people. So you always had a group of people around you; you always had a group of comrades. That is what we call each other; we are all comrades.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.