Be it known this story is not about the hard working Chapter and Auxiliary members throughout this great organization who make a difference within their communities, we are reporting about local, state and national full-time PAID employees of this organization.
From our first realization that something was not right in 2003, all the way through the knots in our stomach, as they become outwardly arrogant and disrespectful of the Veterans they were supposed to be serving in 2006.
The DAV has become blatantly corrupt, that they no longer stand behind hidden doors when they go against their own Constitution and By-Laws, in fact, they drop any pretense of them following state or national laws that they were chartered under. We have watched as they intimidated and threatened members and whole Chapters to get in line or be pushed out.
Below are stories and letters sent to us after DAV members complained to the National Office of the DAV... Only to find out they were in on it from the beginning. National just stalled for time allowing the State Exec's to complete their dastardly deeds.
On this page there will be links to letters, documents and photos. We do this so you can get the facts and the DAV can never again say "Do you have that in writing?" If enough of you find the facts to be fair, maybe you should send this page to every congress person you know as the DAV is a Congressionally Recognized Veterans Organization and maybe it should not be.
Knowing that there is too much information here to review all at one time, we have provided links to the different parts of this article so you can return at a future date and not lose your place.
Part One - Does Your Chapter Vote Count In The DAV?
Part Two - The DAV National Budget - How Much Is 2+2?
Part Three - Solution To VA Claims Backlog An Ongoing Problem.
Part Four - Working With Veterans And Community
Part Five - Fund Raising by Chapters and Who Gets It.
Part Six - DAV, Filing Charges Against Members and Chapters
Part Nine - The Thief Takes The Victim To Court
PART ONE - Does Your Chapter Vote Count In The DAV?
In chronological order it started at the Spring 2003 Convention when we discovered that DAV Chapter Members in the state of Florida, have NO say in how their District or State Runs.
At a state convention held in Orlando, Florida, delegates were advised that whatever their Chapters voted for back home and told you how to vote on their behalf at a convention, carry zero weight at the convention. In fact, you should listen to your State (paid by DAV) officials on who to vote for. The fact that a commotion began when a delegate cast his Chapter 9's 141 Votes for someone other than who the State Officials had chosen, caused a commotion followed by a 20 minute recess right in the middle of casting votes. During the next 20 minutes, the delegate called via cell phone his DAV 9 Chapter Commander, Larry King who stated that the Chapter had voted at a regular meeting to cast all votes for who they wanted and advised the delegate going to the convention to do so in the name of DAV Chapter 9. Commander King also called several other Chapter Officers to verify that no one had knowledge of not casting votes the way the Chapter wished.
Twenty minutes later, the state executive director started the voting all over again with the information previously stated;
The Delegate from Chapter 9 again approached the microphone to cast the votes from his chapter and he was stopped and told to wait... At that point 2 other 'members' of Chapter 9 appeared from the back of the hall and both were fulltime paid employees of the DAV and the delegate at the mike was told that he could only cast 1/3 the votes of Chapter 9 as these two would cast the other 2/3's. So 47 votes were cast the way Chapter 9 voted for and 94 votes went to the state recommended candidate.
At the next meeting after the convention it was brought up as a topic as we had to give a committee report on what happened at the convention. Some members became angry at the situation. A motion was made and passed by the Chapter to never again allow any current or past paid employee of the DAV to be a delegate at any convention.
To add insult to injury, three years later a letter written by Ray Raulerson, a DAV (Paid by DAV) State Officer in April of 2006, now says the delegate that was sent to the state convention was not really the officially recognized delegate from DAV Chapter 9 in Saint Petersburg, Florida… The delegate was (as of his letter) not officially recognized by the state convention committee. (Then why did they take the registration money and give him a delegate’s badge and allow him to cast votes?) And he should know, he was the
If Mr. Raulerson was trying to 'change' history then we will produce at least 30 witnesses to show quite clearly that his written statement is 'untrue'!
How do you get information when they don't want to give it to you?
The delegate from Chapter 9 asked why none of this information was available prior to the convention? He found out that Florida being the second largest State with DAV members, does not have its own state newsletter. So the delegate from Chapter 9 was also a staff member of the Veterans Post Newspaper and advised the State Executive Director, Albert Linden, the Veterans Post Newspaper would take on the project for the cost of the printing. It was agreed!
The staff of the Veterans Post contacted all the state officers for their input and to submit articles. All but two of the officers sent in info. An 8 page newspaper size publication was created with color photos, listings for all the Chapters, dates of upcoming DAV events and information being released from the VA and DAV.
The staff of the Veterans Post did all the typesetting, corrected spelling and grammar and put their hours in as volunteers to help the DAV with its State Wide publication.
The planned run was for 10,000 copies, with 100 copies being sent to each of the 94 Chapters in the state and the remainder to be used by the DAV. As each page was completed, it was sent via the internet to Micanopy (Just South of Gainesville) where the DAV State Headquarters were located. Several times corrections were sent back where we had misspelled a name or a change in the event had occurred.
Three months of planning and time went into the first issue, the plan was to have it out in time for the national convention so it could be shown to all the other states. Since time at a major press is purchased in advance everything was set to go.
The paper was now on the press and we get a phone call on our cell from Albert Linden who says that we cannot go ahead with the publication as it has not been formally approved. We mentioned that we were sending the completed pages to him and 90% of the information was provided by his staff or state officers. He said it doesn’t matter they will not pay for something they did not approve.
The paper was printed bundled and taken back to the Veterans Post News office and a decision was made that we would go ahead and mail to the Chapters as planned. A few days later we were getting calls from all over the state on how much they liked the paper. In fact, DAV State Headquarters not only liked the way the publication came out, they sent us over 300 personally addressed labels so we could mail them to their friends and colleagues. We looked for a check inside the envelope to see how much postage they had sent… Nada, Zip, Zilch, Nothing. The postage using our bulk rate first class mail was $0.60 each paper. ($180.00) Plus we had to put the labels on and sort them according to the postal system standards and bring them to the Bulk Business Mailing Center. (They are NOT located at every post office!)
We discussed this at our office and the decision was made to place the stickers in the circular filing cabinet.
PART TWO - The DAV National Budget - How Much Is 2+2?
Next we go to the DAV 2004 National Convention in Reno, Nevada. We wanted to become more involved in the workings of the system and got ourselves elected as an alternate on the National Budget Committee. This experience like many others in the DAV is unlike any other Veterans Organization in this country.
I attended several meetings and was finally elected as an alternate for the National Budget Committee from my state. Here are the rules: An alternate may not speak, ask questions, look at documents or even touch anything that looks like a budget. Well it was 48 hours to the Saturday Morning Vote for National Budget and since I did not wish to look ignorant at the meeting I wanted to look at the budget just in case the elected delegate for Florida had a heart attack.
It took 28 hours before I could coerce someone to give me a “copy” of the DAV National Budget and I stayed up till 3:00 am in the morning going over it to see if I could understand this thing so I don’t look like a fool if I had to step up to the plate.
The budget was very professional looking with every line being numbered on the left hand side of the page. Every line had a number even if it was blank and each page had consecutive numbering, meaning that if page one had lines 1 through 80, then page two started with line 81 and so on.
The budget was broken down to the many different aspects of the DAV. Trusts, loans, cost of running the different offices, cost of travel for key people, etc. Some of these groupings were only 30 or 40 lines and as I drifted over the numbers the column did not add up.
An example is when line 236 was followed by line 241 etc. Before the official meeting got started we were advised of the protocol of the National Budget Committee... No one is too speak, if you have to ask a question raise your hand and someone will lead you outside in the hallway to discuss what you have on your mind. Same process in case of going to the restroom. You are not allowed to speak unless spoken to during the official meeting especially if you are an Alternate. And there is one more bit of information... Once you leave the room for whatever reason you may not return. Something about security and secrecy.
Now when it came time for the actual voting on the National Budget all Delegates and Alternates gathered in one room. A member of the DAV National Board spoke to us all about all the workings of the DAV and what they have done in the past. There was not one word about the current budget and of the over 50 people in the room, only 4 had actual paperwork in front of them! The vote was taken and it was unanimous for the suggested budget. After the meeting there was a question about what if someone voted in the negative? That person would be asked to step out into the hall to discuss his concern. Voting would again take place with the negative voter still in the hallway, because no one is allowed to reenter... In this manner it can be believed that every National Budget of the DAV was voted for unanimously!
At DAV meetings around the nation, what goes on at your unit's meeting what you hear is supposed to stay within the group and not leak out. Of course nothing at a DAV meeting is held in confidence even if you advise the person that this is personal. So we set out some bait at a meeting held on April 26th, 2006 in Pinellas Park, Florida where we mentioned that instead of being the Alternate at the national convention in 2004, we were the Delegate. There were at least three other people at the meeting that knew that we were the Alternate, as they were at the convention in Reno and realized that when we spoke the baited information to Mike Micolotti (sp?) it was going to be a test.
The test did not take long to complete. A letter dated April 30, 2006 arrived on May 3, 2006 from the aforementioned Ray Raulerson quoting what was said. In the following link states clearly that the Alternates to the Budget Committee "did not need to have access to the proposed budget..."
Mr. Raulerson also states that there was to be a discussion during the meeting so the Delegates could vote. There was no discussion and the vote was taken. I wonder what was sent to the congressional record? Hopefully we will find it and place it here at a later date.
Even though Mr. Raulerson believes that we were not listening, we did hear a number of things about Trusts and Guilds. Trusts are exactly like you think they are if you are thinking in a financial frame of mind. The problems are; what exactly are the Trusts used for and who has access to them? One of the Trusts "The Colorado Trust" has its Executive Director Elected each year at the National Convention. We were present in the room during the process and even nominated someone for the position. After we spoke the four words; "We nominate Jerry Lewis." the room went completely silent, in fact no one even took a breath as if the Devil was behind the door and you were hiding so he would not know you were there. The silence was broken when the person who was nominated withdrew his name. It seems we were unaware that only ONE person is allowed to hold that position and no one is allowed to even suggest anyone else.
PART THREE - Solution To VA Claims Backlog An Ongoing Problem.
The Veterans Post Newspaper is a supporter and advocate of and for Veterans. For years Veterans organizations according to their by-laws were formed to get the benefits earned and what was promised to Veterans who served Honorably in the United States Military Service.
These Veteran groups were all founded for the same purpose of 'Helping' Veterans. Some of these organizations are over 100 Years Old and the problem still exists. Every generation of politicians had the opportunity to fix the problem but if they did, why would you need the Veterans organization to fight for you? If the government and the VA did the right thing and help the Veteran there would be no backlog of VA Claims and 90% of all claims could be processed in under 90 days.
A Commission (Veterans Disability Benefits Commission, VDBC) was established under a 'Political' umbrella to go on a fact finding tour of the United States to see if they could find a solution to some of the problems. Once again politics took over and Veterans were actually having benefits taken away instead of getting them.
It is true that many of the national Veterans organizations had representatives at the hearing, most reading statements asking the commission to do something good for Veterans but actual 'Working' solutions to the problem were not offered.
A Veterans Post News staff member also read a statement which was taken from the Veterans Party of America website (www.VeteransParty.US) which has the best possible solution to actually help all Veterans. The DAV along with Senator Nelson's representative were there to go 'On Record' for supporting the VDBC. We all know now that the VDBC is trying to not only lower benefits for Veterans but also deny them access to Social Security!
In the last part of Mr. Raulerson's letter he states that we were wrong that we had "been the only one" at the VDBC Commission meeting in Saint Petersburg, Florida to give an answer to the problem of back log of VA claims cases. Mr. Raulerson is correct, we were not the only ones to present answers... However, we were the only one that came up with a solution to cut out 6 to 18 months of wait time between replies and were able to cut out all of the hurdles and hoops that Veterans and their families have to jump through.
Senator Bill Nelson's representative spoke for 13 minutes saying what a great job the VA was doing to help Veterans and how he will continue to help... But no solution. Other answers to this problem included "Adding" more steps to go through which means longer wait times.
Currently Veterans are trying to get "Permission" to have representation by legal consul, which would be a wonderful thing for Veterans... So why is the DAV against this?
Another response to the claims process is to allow Veterans and/or their families to hire an attorney to argue their case but the VA and the DAV does not see it that way. There only response from their National Adjutant, Arthur H. Wilson, is why should Veterans have to pay for what they earned or were promise? We agree but the government does not keep their word and although the DAV has thousands of service officers, it still takes up to 5 years to see a claim through.
If lawyers started winning the cases for Veterans, maybe the government has to pick up the legal fees. If the VA really wanted to; they could clear up the backlog of claims themselves. There are over 100,000 volunteers willing to take the on the position of a VA rater. If the VA (or any other Veterans Organization) could train them what to look for and what the minimum requirements would be required for each claim. If they only looked at one case and completed it in two days, they could handle 10 cases every month. One hundred thousand of them could clear One Million Claims in 30 days.
The problem with this last solution is that the DAV has the largest paid full time service officer staff of all the Veterans organizations... What would they do for actual work if they could no longer drag out claims cases for years at a time?
PART FOUR - Working With Veterans And Community
Unknown to many DAV Chapters around the country, officially DAV Chapters are not to associate with other Veteran Organizations or Community/Governmental Organization without written permission from their state and/or national headquarters.
In 2005, several DAV Chapters in Pinellas County Florida, were told they could no longer be apart of the local Veterans Council (which is to represent all Veteran Organizations in the county) as they did not have permission to and the DAV does not associate with others.
Chapters were also not allowed to participate in the Veteran's Day Parade, as that would be associating with other organizations without permission.
Several different Chapters wanted to participate in the Seminole, Florida Veteran's Day Parade but could not do it as DAV members. The Veterans Post Newspaper provided a float, decorations and a vehicle so DAV members from different chapters could indeed take part. Eight people are missing from the photo as they thought that there might be some retribution from the DAV.
Click For Parade Pic Additional photos of the parade can be found by clicking on the "Veterans Organizations" link on the American Flag at the bottom of the page.
Chapter 9 stealthily and illegally assisted the hurricane victims in 2004 at Port Charlotte, Florida. They had authorized $500 to be used to purchase needed items for the residents who were trying to put their lives back together in the hurricane stricken area.
Paul Branesky went out to purchase items for this humanitarian deed. Eventually he filled his entire 7 foot by 10 foot trailer but needed additional room because Branesky spent more than the $500 he had and the Veterans Post News assisted by loaning their 15 passenger van to tow the trailer and give more cargo space after removing the seats. (More about the overage of what Branesky purchased in Part Six)
The non-criminal part of Branesky's trip was that he first drove to the VA out patient clinic in Fort Myers, Florida as he was to deliver goods to the DAV motor type home so they can give the items away to show they are doing something. The goods were delivered to Andrew Marshall as Branesky unloaded the open trailer and handed items to Marshall, (click for photo) Marshall had to stop Branesky when the goods had filled the DAV vehicle to capacity. There was still more than a half of trailer full of stuff with more in the Veterans Post News Van.
Now this is where Branesky decides to break the rules and goes out to deliver the remaining goods to those in need. We traveled about 15 miles to a very hard hit area and dropped in on the Windmill Mobil Home Association where we delivered the remainder of the goods. (click for photo)
Branesky denied ever associating with the Windmill Mobil Home Association as he was a Life Member of the DAV, so the Veterans Post News took the blame and said we stole Branesky's trailer.
Another occurrence of separatism was at a regular meeting of Chapter 13 in Saint Petersburg, Florida (March 2006) when the members voted on and approved to donate $500.00 to the Paralyzed Veterans Para-Olympic Game. No one thought there would be a problem with this... Except sitting in on this meeting was the DAV National Service Officer and head of the DAV Regional Office at Bay Pines, Florida, Andrew Marshall, who stood up after the motion had passed with no objections by any member of the Chapter and stated that the Chapter could not give money to another organization, even if it was a Veterans Organization. And therefore the check was 'never' written.
Now since NO DAV Chapter or DAV entity may associate with another organization, how is it that they just joined with 4 other national Veterans organizations to create a "NEW" organization that will set up committees just like congress?
First you should realize that this did not happen overnight and negotiations among the 5 groups may have been going on for months without mentioning it to their membership.
Second, if they are setting up like a congressional inquiry what would be the difference? Are they trying to form a political party? No, that is not likely as the Veterans Party already exists but since they do not run it, they won't take part in it even if it will benefit all their members and members families.
PART FIVE - Fund Raising by Chapters and Who Gets It.
For many years, the Veterans Post Newspaper has been assisting Veteran's Organizations to raise much needed funds for their activities, both for Veterans and the Community they live in. Since 2001 Veterans have been blessed by the generosity of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays Franchise to allow Veteran Groups to participate in raising funds at their games.
Since the very beginning DAV organizations have taken part in the activities and have proudly written checks to serve their fellow Veterans and their community. The funds collected by the different organizations include but is not limited to; American Legion, AmVets, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America.
Of the Disabled American Veterans at least 7 different groups were involved for a period of 4 years. And there was always discussion at DAV get-togethers; e.g. district meetings, state conventions and national conventions of how well these DAV groups were doing. We even offered to assist them in their home states and counties. In early 2005 someone decided at the state level that the DAV chapters and groups involved in this fund raising was not paying enough 'homage' to state headquarters.
Now what we mean by 'homage' is that the State DAV gets 10% of "Everything" that is taken in by its chapters, right off the top. In the case where someone donates a used lawnmower, the State DAV puts a value on it, say $50 and the chapter now owes an additional $5.00 to state. This is the same if someone donates a TV or a car, even if the chapter just gives it away to a needy Veteran.
As with any other convention, you get to meet people from all across the country and discuss how things are done elsewhere. Always a topic of discussion at any Veterans get together is fund raising.
In the Tampa Bay area of Florida using the Veterans Post News Partnership Program, arrangements were made through the great generosity of the Devil Rays Baseball Organization for various Veteran groups to collect funds from the wonderful fans of the Devil Rays.
Some of the Veteran groups that participated were AmVets, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America and others.
Since 7 DAV groups were involved in these fund raisings in the Tampa Bay area the discussion continued at various times over the 5 day period of the convention. The district Commander in the Tampa Bay area was not only aware of these fund raisings but participated in them to raise funds for the Veterans in the nursing home at the VA for their needed personal items such as socks, toothpaste, etc. The Florida State Commanders for three different years were aware of these fund raisings as they were discussed openly at state conventions which are held at least twice a year.
At a District Picnic (Paid for by Chapter 9) in the summer of 2004, the state Commander, Silva Roya, acknowledged the fact that Chapter 9 was the most active chapter in the state of Florida as far as providing funds and activities and that the other groups in the district were also leading the state in donations. And it was all because of the fund raising activities they were able to perform thanks to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays Baseball management and team.
So now in 2005 comes the State of Florida Inspector/Investigator Carlos Rainwater to do "Interviews" with those involved in this matter as the state wants to know if they were getting their 10% or not. (Sounds like the Catholic Church or the Mafia!)
Some of the Veterans Post Staff members (who are also Life Members of the DAV) were "Interviewed" in the VA Regional Office at Bay Pines, Florida. During one of the hour and a half "Interviews" more than 85% of it was responding to questions about how much money each of the different groups collected. Or how was the money spent? Or if the Veterans Post News was getting a kickback. Or if the Tampa Bay Devil Rays was getting a kickback. Or how much does the Veterans Post News get from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for doing this. All of the 'interviews' were recorded by Rainwater and promised he would make a copy for each individual who requested one. We requested one for our interview right at the beginning of the recording. On at least three occasions after that we continued to request our copy of the tape. As of July 21, 2006, more than a year after the recording had taken place, we still do not have it.
The "Interviews/Investigations" got so intense that one DAV Chapter was singled out as planning and doing illegal fund raising activities. The word spread not only throughout the DAV but out into the Tampa Bay area. Some DAV Officers in local chapters called the Veterans Post News and wanted to know why they were told they could no longer associate with our publication. State of Florida DAV Headquarters denies ever saying that to anyone. However, 11 Chapters from 8 counties all had the same story. You don't think DAV State Headquarters would lie?
A local self-proclaimed (but never proven) Veterans advocate, Terry Richards (of Gulfport, Florida) picked up on the story and filed 'allegations' against Staff Members of the Veterans Post Newspaper for Racketeering, Illegal Fund Raising For Veterans, Inappropriate and Illegal Donations to Veterans Groups, Illegal Parking In A Handicap Zone, Improper Entry Into a VA Office Building (With the assistance of 4 uniformed officers), Parking In A Delivery Zone and last but not least, Giving Away Over $10,000.00 In Gift Certificates To Hundreds and Hundreds Of Veterans And Their Families. (Which Mr. Richards knows personally as he himself went to the movies free and did the same at an Air Show.) Now Mr. Richards is not totally mentally incapacitated as he stress's the word 'Allegations". Not only did he not have any facts but when he was called in by one federal agency to discuss the matter and to bring "ANY" evidence to support the 'Allegations' he spoke of, Mr. Richards refused to go and took the 5th Amendment to protect himself on what he may or may not have said. Read response to questioning by Richards
The charges were filed with; Florida Department of Justice, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Election Commission, Federal Election Commission, the FBI, the CIA, Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Secretary of Agriculture, Florida Business/Consumer Affairs, Senators Martinez and Nelson, Local Police Departments, Department of Homeland Security, the Veterans Administration at Bay Pines, the Bay Pines Veterans Administration Police Department, the Inspector General of the Veterans Administration...
A letter was written on behalf of Mr. Richards to the Federal Elections Commission in Washington, D.C. and to State of Florida Division of Consumer Services by the Department of Florida State Commander of the Disabled American Veterans David Stone.
In his letter Commander Stone says he first learned of the unapproved fundraising after a standard fund raising request form FR2-88 was submitted February 19, 2006. So why was Carlos Rainwater investigating the fundraising in the Spring of 2005? Even at that time Mr. Rainwater knew it had been going on since 2002! Which means that State of Florida DAV Commander David Stone did not tell the truth to both Federal and State Agencies.
Stone further says; "...State Headquarters took prompt and aggressive action, which resulted in revoking the Charter of Chapter #9," Again "UNTRUE!" According to DAV National and the 2000 letters it sent out in early 2006, (before Mr. Stone wrote his letter) stating clearly that Chapter 9 was being merged with Chapter 13. And if it were so illegal, why wasn't the other 6 DAV unit charters also revoked? Mr. Rainwater knew about them in early 2005.
Commander Stone again embarrasses both himself and the DAV when he says; "We have no knowledge of where the funds collected by this unapproved activity went." Yet Chapter 9 had cancelled checks made out to DAV State for Thousands of Dollars in contributions. Is Mr. Stone so uninformed about the matters of the DAV? If so, how was he ever "Given" the position of State Commander? (we already discussed how elections are done in the DAV)
Mr. Stone then states quite clearly that Carlos Rainwater, State Inspector should be contacted for any future assistance. The thing is... Mr. Rainwater, in a phone conversation on July 14th, 2006, said he knew nothing about any letters that Mr. Stone may have written and never heard of Terry Richards. (See Day 192 Below in How To Destroy...) Read Entire Letter Here.
Mr. Richards also admits in this letter that he contacted "Every advertiser in the Veterans Post Newspaper and 'advised' (scared and intimidated) them that they may have part of illegal criminal activities. Because of this, some advertisers did stop their advertising with the us.
PART SIX - DAV, Filing Charges Against Members and Chapters
Back in 2003 when a member became a little louder than usual asking some of the executive officers of the DAV to respond with a truthful answer to some questions... The DAV member was told that he could be brought up on charges under Article 16 of the national by-laws.
What charges are there was his next question. He was told that he could be suspended without knowing what the charges were, and have no rights and privileges at any DAV meetings. In addition there was no limit to the suspension and no rights to appeal until the suspension was lifted which at that time there would be no reason to appeal.
In 2005 charges were being brought up on a member of Chapter 9 in Saint Petersburg, Florida for the mishandling of funds as he was the treasurer of the Chapter. Seems that the year before he had spent more than the $500 allotted for emergency supplies for hurricane victims, (see Part Four, Paul Branesky) the problem was, he was only authorized to spend $500 of Chapter funds, but they knew he spent more because of all the supplies he purchased, but they could not anything to show that he got the money from the DAV. Answer was simple, but some people just did not want to hear it... He was offered additional donations from other Veterans and friends and took money out of his own pocket!
He was not charged with taking any money, he was charged with operating an "Illegal" fund raiser because he was in charge of the Cola machine and the State DAV said they were unaware of it otherwise it would have been figured in for their 10% cut!
The executive staff of the Florida DAV, the past 15 State Commanders for the State of Florida, Seven National Commanders and thousands of Dignitaries of the DAV have been in that building that both saw and used the Coke machine for the past 18 years and no one has ever said a word. This charge was later dropped but just in case you think this was just a fluke... The State DAV went to DAV Chapter 3 in Sarasota, Florida and told them the same thing... "Illegal" fund raising Cola machine.
Branesky was also charged with cashing a check with one signature on it... Yes it only had Branesky's signature and a year later when there was finally a hearing and Branesky had hired an attorney as his own cost, the question asked by the defendant was he the only person who signed a one signature check. At least 8 others have done the same but none of them are facing charges.
1. Signed checks with one signature.
2. Failed to safeguard chapter funds (cause he wrote check with one signature.
3. False information to Sheriff's Office.
4. Wrote check # 2196 for $500 with only one signature. (see #'s 1&2)
5. Conduct not conducive to the best interest of the organization.
If it looks like numbers 1, 2 and 4 kind of overlap, you guessed right. Since this was a DAV court/hearing and not a criminal court, rights, legal procedures and common sense do not apply. In a real court, those charges would not be allowed as it is double or triple jeopardy. (If someone breaks into your home and steals your oven... He/she is charged with burglary... They are not tried for property damage when they broke in through the window and they are not charged with trespassing. However, under the national and state bylaws of the DAV, anything goes.
Charge #3 is according to the Sheriff's report, it read that Branesky was the treasurer during the time of a theft at the chapter home and was noted in the report as the "Auxiliary Commander." Since all 7 judges at the hearing (all paid employees of the DAV) truly believe that if it was written then it is so. In that case the law suit against the Veterans of Sarasota County should find the DAV guilty of falsifying a court document as it is dated by their attorney Dana J. Watts, for June 22, 2005, which is a year prior to the actual suit. Well if it is written, it must be so. See page 1 of suit filed in Sarasota County, Florida Click Suit Here.
The laws ruling this hearing are the one's the DAV use to their advantage. Technical rules of evidence shall NOT apply and hearsay evidence, may be admitted at the discretion of the DAV. So DAV hearsay is ok and the defendant's is not. Click For Rules
On Charge #2, Branesky failed to safeguard chapter funds because as treasurer he failed to stop several other officers from also writing one-signature checks. The 7 judges all voted guilty as Mr. Branesky's excuse was a bit too flimsy for them. The checks in question were written while Branesky was in California visiting relatives or after he was no longer treasurer. Regardless of this solid alibi... Not good enough for DAV standards. Pages 1 - 20 of DAV Hearing. (See if you can spot any kangaroos.)
One witness had been writing letters to DAV State Headquarters telling them what was going on and who was doing it while Branesky was in California. But as testimony shows, it was several months before the state investigator Rainwater got back to them. In addition when the trustees came in to take over chapter 9, the same witness went to the head of the trustees (Philip Condom) and told him about $2,000.00 in cash that was seen in the acting adjutant's hand prior to the "Theft"! Also witness to it was the former commander. Did the state or Rainwater act upon this information? NO! And the witness was told to keep their mouth shut by Condom. See portion of testimony.
Well the good news is... Branesky's attorney read off several of the national by-laws that would prevent this hearing from ever happening, and the fact that proceeding with any verdict would be against the best interests of both the DAV and its members. So with no substantial evidence to actually prove Branesky guilty, the DAV Hearing Board/Florida DAV State Executives and Judges of the DAV, found Branesky guilty anyway. They removed him from membership in the local Chapter and placed him into an "National At Large" Chapter where he has no vote. He cannot attend conventions as a delegate, cannot make a motion or even participate in "his" chapter activities, because they don't ever meet.
True American Justice for a National Congressionally recognized Veteran Organization.
The following is the apparent current playbook of the National Disabled American Veterans organization to take away DAV Chapters from the hard working members, who paid, built and cared for it without one single dollar ever coming from the state or national organization.
Give or take a day or two, the following was accomplished by Philip Condom who caused/forced Chapter 9, Saint Petersburg, Florida, to be merged after it had just Celebrated its 75th Year in the DAV...
David Stone who through his actions forced Chapter 3 in Sarasota, Florida to "Return" its DAV Charter and end its membership and association with the DAV as they could no longer afford to be members of the DAV. Stone who was asked to help, just stood by while over $27,000.00 was removed/spent from Chapter 3 coffers in just a few months.
Day 1. Tell the local DAV Chapter that someone has filed a complaint about the Chapter and the state must check it out. Find some of the members who will rat out the others, or worse find someone willing to be collaborator for you to spy on other members and do things around the property. Tell them nice things and how much good they are doing for the DAV. Tell them they will be rewarded with a position of leadership or respect. Don't worry about them. When this is over we will dump them with the rest of the trash.
Day 12. Tell the members of the Chapter that in order to properly do the investigation without involving any of the current officers, they will all be suspended and a trustee committee will take over and run the daily operations of the Chapter and the meetings. (All trustees will be current or former "paid" DAV employees.)
Day 23. Tell the Chapter members (and the Auxiliary) everything will be just fine. We have found no real problems but we want to straighten them out before we turn it back over to the Chapter. (In reality have a special meeting without members of the Chapter present and record the minutes to show that your new officers have been installed. Take copy of minutes to the financial institution of the Chapter and make out new banking signature cards showing the trustee committee members as new signatories on the account. Now you have their assets and property.)
Day 36. Spend some of the Chapter's money to do some improvements in order to show that something is actually being done for the good... Keep them occupied looking at things around them and away from the books inside the office which should be kept locked up. Purchase a computer for the Chapter office from one of the Trustee Officers. Make it a used older model without printer or monitor, pay the Trustee $1,600.00 for it and tell the chapter members they cannot use it yet till you get the monitor. Make sure you buy the printer first! (According to officers and members of the Former DAV Chapter 3, this is what David Stone actually did.)
Day 48. Search the files and go to the Clerk of Court or tax collector to find the land and deed records of the Chapter Building, Halls or rental property that could bring in funds to the Chapter. Do whatever it takes to file a Quit Claim Deed to change ownership of the property to state or national DAV.
Day 64. At this general meeting of the Chapter, announce that things are going along just fine, but you have found some old files that need to be updated or changed in order to bring the Chapter up to speed with the latest rules and regulations of the newest constitution and by-laws of state and national. In reality write a check from the Chapter bank account for $1,000.00 to buy a new desk for the state executive director. At least that is what you tell the members if they ask. Calm their fears and tell them nothing will be done until you inform them of what you are planning and the options they have.
Day 95. At this general meeting you will find some resistance from members of the Chapter who want to know what is taking so long, or why they no longer have control over the building or keys to it? First insult some of them and say inappropriate things. This will cause some of the leaders to just get up and leave. The rest will be easier to control.
So how come after the above letters were written to state and national that they did not charge State Commander David Stone under; Article XVI, Section 16.1, Paragraph 1-C, DAV National Bylaws, by exhibiting conduct not conducive to the best interests of the organization and contrary to the maintenance of proper order and decorum?
Maybe he WAS exhibiting conduct conducive to the best interests of the organization. Just goes to show they don't need to follow their own rules, but the members have to. (Do as I say, not what I do!) The exact same behavior was displayed by both Philip Condom and Tommy McVeigh when they were in the process of the death of Chapter 9 and forced it into a merger with Chapter 13. If justice is to be equal and fair, Stone, Condom and McVeigh should all be brought up on these charges. DAV National Bylaw.
Day 110. You are getting lots of phone calls, give them something else to think about... Tell them that another Chapter is having some difficulties and is considering merging to join them. Ask them to form a committee to meet with the other Chapter and discuss what would be of the best interest for both groups. (In reality you already made all the plans for both groups, but it will keep them busy and out of your hair.)
Day 125. The members will have become belligerent to the trustee committee by now and don't like what is happening to their Chapter that has taken them over 30 years to create and become a partner in the community. Make sure at this meeting you invite someone from state or national to give them a speech or pep-talk. He will say things like for the good of the order or some such. Make the Chapter members feel special. Make promises to them. (No you don't have to keep any of them!)
Day 140. Some of them have begun writing letters to the state commander, the executive director or even national, don't worry they all know what to say and do. Some of the members say they are not coming back until things are set right. No problem, you didn't want people who thought for themselves anyway. We just need one leader for each Chapter and a bunch of sheep to follow. The more that leave the less problems we will have taking over their hard earned efforts and assets.
Day 155. Those who are still around telling you that what you are doing is illegal... File a charge from the National By-Laws Article Sixteen on them. Don't worry, no one actually knows what it means and we can start a hearing on some of the members still speaking out against us. This again will take their minds off of what we are really doing. Remind them again that nothing has been written in stone and there are still lots of options left and things to do.
Day 188. It is too late for anyone to do anything. You have accomplished complete control, devastated their confidence, pride and best of all their ranks. You own their financial assets and property. Now tell them that elections will be delayed and their new slate of officer will be appointed by the trustee committee. Don't let them know right away that the trustee committee members will be part of their new officers. In fact make sure you set up a nominating committee and put trustees in charge of it, let them put their own names on the slate, making sure no one can actually get elected.
Day 192. If any of them try to tell you what you promised them... Just look them straight in the eye and tell them you don't remember that or, "Do you have that in writing?" Make up stuff, spread rumors, tell lies. None of it matters, after all you are the ones that will be writing up the reports and minutes, just put what you want in them so in case anybody does come around to check, you just show them "YOUR" truth in writing.
The original ownership of the property and structures was held by the Veterans Of World War One, Established in the Summer of 1919. The DAV started a Chapter in that building in 1944.
On May 20, 1947, the property and structure was held by a separate holding company that would allow not only the DAV to meet there but other organizations as well. It was incorporated as the Disabled Veterans Holding Company of Sarasota.
The Holding Company was reorganized and changed its name to the Veterans Holding Company of Sarasota, Inc., on August 29, 1973. Court Doc 1973
In April of 1992, the State DAV tried once again to take land and structure from the Veterans of Sarasota County and once again they were stopped by both legal reasons and of common sense. April 1992 Response to DAV Again!
Even the document filed in the Suit shows that the DAV State of Florida once again took the Chapter property away in 2005, all the while telling the members that this was the safest thing to protect "Them" the members. This is the Court Document showing the theft of property from the "Veterans of Sarasota Holding Company, Inc." by the State of Florida DAV. The members of Chapter 3 that signed that document will sign affidavits that they were coerced and intimidated into applying their signatures to that document.
This property, building and all the assets "NEVER" belonged to the DAV, not in word, deed or gesture! It has always belonged to the Veterans of Sarasota County. Anything else is fraudulent
PART NINE - The Thief Takes The Victim To Court
So even with all the legal documents in hand, the members of DAV Chapter 3 went to the Sarasota Police Dept to sign a complaint, they would not take one. Same with the Sheriff's Dept, State Attorney's Office, Florida Dept of Law Enforcement and even tried to file on their own at the county court house... BUT NO ONE WOULD HELP THEM!!! Nobody wanted to get in the way of the State or National DAV. No one but the Veterans Post Newspaper.
According to a phone conversation with Robert Gushee at DAV national headquarters, under the national by-laws, Article 6, Section 9, (we have it recorded so we are sure that was what he said) that NO Chapter may have ANY permanent assets including but not limited to: Property, buildings, bank accounts, equipment, fixtures, cars... Nothing is theirs, it belongs to the state or national DAV.
A couple of weeks later on June 13, 2006 in a phone conversation with Florida State Director Albert Linden, he said that he was not sure what Mr. Gushee was talking about as Article 6 only goes to Section 4! (See Day 192 Above in How To Destroy...)
The national by-laws also say that if a Chapter's charter is revoked or suspended, everything then belongs to the state or national. There is "Nothing" in the by-laws that says a Chapter cannot "Return" its charter voluntarily and just leave the DAV.
Which is exactly what the Veterans of Sarasota County did. In that same phone conversation with Mr. Linden on June 13th, he had stated that he had already received the charter and a letter from chapter 3. The phone call was in the evening of the 13th, and it would be presumed that the mail was delivered earlier in the day.
AFTER they received the returned charter which in effect made them no longer members of the DAV, John Haynes, the current state commander of DAV wrote a letter saying he hereby suspends the charter of DAV chapter 3. On June 14th, Michael E Dobmeier, the DAV National Judge Advocate wrote a letter to Albert Linden, Florida State Executive Director saying that chapter 3 can no longer hold meetings!
In plain talk that us regular folk can understand, Dobmeier is saying that a chapter that no longer exists cannot hold meetings...? The same as all those who died in Korea please raise your hands? Haynes on the other hand suspended a charter he was 'already' holding in his hand...? The same as filing an eviction notice on a tenant that moved out last month? (Could he also fire someone who quit a year ago?) Read Suspension and No Meeting Letters Here
If it was up to us, we would increase DAV dues by double so they could hire really smart people! The bottom line still is... The property does not belong to the DAV, never did, never will. So if another DAV Chapter meets every month in a restaurant, if they get suspended does the state DAV take the restaurant?
DAV is now suing the Honorably Discharged Veterans of Sarasota County, not only as a group, but individual suits at $15,000.00 each on the members of the group, to include a World War Two Veteran, that has been a Volunteer Service Officer for the DAV and a Life Member for 61 years! Oh yeah, they are also suing his wife of almost 60 years for $15,000.00 as well. (she took the minutes at the last meeting)
The 14 page Suit against the Former Members of DAV Chapter 3, clearly show that national Bylaw Section 6.4 (notice no article number) that "Upon Revocation of charter... But the charter of Chapter 3 was not revoked it Resigned! Link to page 7, item # 29, A. National Bylaws.
The Suit also shows that under item # 29, B. The Bylaws of DAV Sarasota #3 was amended on June 5, 2000 to state: Read Statement Here. Again it says; "Upon revocation of the charter... OR the disbanding of said chapter... Everything would then belong to DAV Dept. of Florida.
The Chapter did not "Disband", it reorganized as a more efficient Veterans Organization. Without restrictions of who they could associate with in their community. Besides, Members, just like National have the equal right to remove themselves from those set on a course of self destruction. If citizens do not have this right, then our U. S. Constitution itself is in jeopardy. Read Entire Suit Here.
Please remember that the DAV included individually all the members on the latest roster including the past Eight Years of Commanders and most of the Officers. And even some that have passed away. The DAV seems to be in business just to make money off of its chapters.
The written response to the DAV from the
1. All DAV Chapters will understand that everything they have worked for and built within their community, belongs to someone else and that's the way life is... Unfair!
2. All DAV Chapters could return their charters to prevent losing what their grandfathers handed down to their fathers and they would have passed on to their children... A place in the community where special Americans know as Veterans would always be welcome.
3. The national headquarters could suspend all 2,000 DAV Chapters around the nation to prevent them from taking advantage of choice number 2 and confiscate all of their property and assets before they could give it away in their local community.
The bad news is, that both choices 2 and 3, will mean the total end for the National Organization called the Disabled American Veterans. Choice number one will have to go through some great compromise and a complete change of policy and attitude within the DAV hierarchy to allow this organization to remain as a true voice of American Veterans.
If you know anyone who is a Member of a DAV Chapter, let them know about this web site so they can at least be aware of what can happen and they can watch things unfold as the Veterans of Sarasota County fight for the property that has been in "Their" possession since 1919!