NASDVA Group photo from 2022 Annual Training Conference

The National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA) is an organization with a history dating back to 1946. In the aftermath of World War II, many veterans earned state and federal benefits which required coordinated efforts to ensure veterans received these entitlements. Thus, states developed a department or agency specifically to manage veterans’ affairs and carry out the responsibility for veteran services and programming.

NASDVA was formed to connect the leaders of these agencies in order to:

  • foster the effective representation of persons claiming entitlements on account of the honorable military service of any person as defined in 38 U.S.C. 101;
  • provide a medium for the exchange of ideas and information;
  • facilitate reciprocal state services;
  • secure uniformity, equality, efficiency, and effectiveness in providing services to veterans and their family members in all states and territories; and
  • maintain an interest in all veteran legislation.

The NASDVA members represent all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Nationally, we are the second largest provider of services to veterans and our roles continue to expand.

State directors as leaders of governmental agencies are tasked by their respective governors, state boards and/or commissions with a the responsibility to address the needs of veterans regardless of age, gender, era of service, military branch or circumstance of service. Collectively, states contribute more than $6 billion annually in service of our nation’s veterans and their families. We are connected by the bonds of honorable service and united by our common goal to make a positive difference in the lives of our veterans and their families.

NASDVA President

James S. “Hammer” Hartsell – Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Executive Director

Retired Marine Corps Major General James S. “Hammer” Hartsell was appointed Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) by Gov. Ron DeSantis and unanimously approved by Florida’s three Cabinet Officers in 2021.

FDVA is a 1,480-member constitutionally chartered State Veterans’ Affairs department with a $171 million annual budget responsible for serving the nation’s third largest veteran population. Operating as the premier point of entry for Florida’s 1.5 million veterans, FDVA operates a network of nine state veterans’ homes and provides statewide outreach to connect veterans with their earned services, benefits and support.

General Hartsell served in the United States Marine Corps with honor for 37 years of active and reserve duty, beginning as an enlisted Marine in 1981 and completing a distinguished and highly decorated military career as a Major General.

As a Lieutenant Colonel commanding 4th Reconnaissance Battalion in 2001-2003, he was mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 and awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. In 2004, he was mobilized again and deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 as 1st Marine Division Senior Liaison to the Marine Expeditionary Force and awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Action Ribbon. As a Colonel he was mobilized once again and deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom as Senior Liaison to NATO Regional Command South and subsequently awarded the Legion of Merit and Combat Action Ribbon.

As a General Officer he served as Commanding General of 4th Marine Division, comprised of 18,000 Sailors and Marines in 37 states and during his command deployed units and teams to five Continents in support of the Global War on Terror.

General Hartsell then served as U.S. Pacific Command Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, where he was mobilized as J5 Strategy & Policy Director, and as Chief of Staff, of the 360,000 participant United States Pacific Command, and awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal.

While serving as Mobilization Assistant to the Commander U.S. Pacific Command, he concurrently served in a senior Department of Defense role as Director of the Department of Defense Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies working under authority and direction of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and personally engaged senior level U.S. and Foreign Military and Civilian government delegations throughout the Indo-Pacific theater of operations.

Concurrent with his Reserve military career, General Hartsell completed a successful 22-year civilian career in the Healthcare Industry where he provided leadership in Marketing, Product Management, U.S. and Global Business Development, and Hospital Administration.
An accomplished Marksman throughout his entire career, he earned his nickname Hammer as a young Captain while shooting on the Marine Corps Pistol Team. General Hartsell was the first Marine Distinguished Shooter to achieve General Officer rank in more than 60 years.

Upon retirement from the Marine Corps in 2018, he moved back to his home state of Florida and joined the Pasco Sheriff’s Office where he launched the Future Operations Division. In 2019, he was called to join the leadership team of FDVA, where he continues to serve today as executive director with passion and purpose on behalf of Florida’s 1.5 million Veterans.

Executive Committee

PresidentJames “Hammer” HartsellFlorida
Sr. Vice PresidentDennis WimerIndiana
Jr. Vice PresidentTim SheppardWyoming
SecretaryTerry PrinceIllinois
TreasurerLonnie WangenNorth Dakota
HistorianGary HarterUtah

District Vice Presidents

NortheastKasim YarnRhode Island
SoutheastPatrick FarrellVirgin Islands
MidwestDebbie AshenhurstOhio
SouthwestBill TurnerKansas
Far WestMark TschamplIdaho

Past Presidents

2022-2023Wanda WrightArizona
2021-2022Thomas PalladinoTexas
2019-2021John HilgertNebraska
2018-2019Alfie Alvarado-RamosWashington
2017-2018Verdie BowenAlaska
2016-2017Randy ReevesMississippi
2015-2016David BrasuellIdaho
2014-2015Lonnie WangenNorth Dakota
2013-2014Clyde MarshAlabama
2012-2013Jim WillisOregon
2011-2012David FletcherArkansas
2010-2011Linda SchwartzConnecticut

View our Leadership and Award History page.