Retired Rear Admiral W. Kent Davis was recently re-appointed by the State Board of Veterans Affairs (SBVA) for a second term as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA). His second four-year term begins Feb. 16. 

“Kent has done an outstanding job leading the agency over the last four years,” said SBVA Vice-Chairman Scott Gedling. “He has earned the respect of our veterans and has the full confidence of the board as was evident in our unanimous decision to appoint him for another term. He is a true professional, with the utmost care and compassion for taking care of our veterans in Alabama.”

Under Davis’ leadership, the ADVA has focused on building external relationships and partnerships, improving business and personnel efficiency within the department, and taking the lead on enhancing veterans’ well-being issues in Alabama. 

“It is an honor to serve Alabama’s veterans from the moment they take off the uniform for the final time through eternity,” Davis said. “We have accomplished great tasks over the last four years, and I look forward to continuing to serve the heroes who call the great state of Alabama home. I am blessed to work with an exceptional staff of over 1,000 state employees and contract employees in 71 of our facilities around Alabama—and now many external partners—who work diligently to assist those veterans.”

Davis’ first term highlights include establishing the Office of Outreach and Engagement, which expanded the department’s community engagement and public outreach with Alabama’s nearly 400,000 veterans. He spearheaded the effort to create Alabama’s Challenge, a collaboration between numerous state, federal, and community partners, to address the state’s high veteran suicide rate. In 2022, the initiative held six veterans’ well-being town halls across the state, as well as a statewide public awareness campaign.

Davis’ arguably most significant challenge was combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite that challenge, Davis implemented innovative decisions and strategies during the pandemic to ensure the safety of employees and the well-being of veterans. Under Davis’ leadership, all four state veterans’ homes’ HVAC units installed needlepoint bi-polar ionization systems, which can destroy 99% of airborne pathogens. Additional portable UV lighting systems were also purchased to sanitize surfaces in the homes, and in 2020 the homes were among the first facilities in the entire state to begin vaccinations and monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID patients. Each state veterans home then took the required steps to establish the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program, which allowed facilities to receive, store, and administer vaccinations directly to residents and staff members without relying on outside sources. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic created many challenges for everyone, but our team was strongly proactive in finding solutions to keep our veterans and staff safe,” Davis said. “We always take our mission of serving and assisting Alabama’s veterans very seriously, but with the significant risks created by COVID-19 we took extra precaution, care, and consideration in our actions.”

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, ADVA was able to open 12 additional Veterans Service Offices around the state during Davis’ first term, all within the department’s existing budget.

To begin his second term, Davis will continue leading several major infrastructure projects. The ADVA is currently expanding the Alabama State Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Spanish Fort and held a groundbreaking on Feb. 11. In February the department will also roll out a new web-based application system for its GI Dependent Scholarship program, which serves approximately 16,000 students in the state. That new system will replace an outdated, decades-old paper application process. The department is also thrilled with the continued progress of the Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins State Veterans Home, which is being built in Enterprise and expected to open in 2024. 

“We look forward to his next term as commissioner,” Gedling said. “He is absolutely the right person to be at the helm of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs.”