AMVETS in Action

Category: Communications

AMVETS National 2016 Scholarship Program Winners Announced


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Media Inquiries: Kristina Miller

AMVETS announced the 2016 recipients of its National Scholarship Program today

“The influx in applications this year was extremely impressive.” said National Programs Director, Karla Lathroum at today’s announcement. “It is an honor for AMVETS to help veterans and members of the military continue their families’ legacies by providing additional support through the AMVETS Scholarship Program.”

Graduating high school seniors selected to receive four-year undergraduate scholarships of $4,000 are:
Holloway Testerman of Chichester, New Hampshire
Mariah Cummings of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
Felice Watson of Villa Rica, Georgia
Jacob Higginson of Springfield, Illinois
Micaela Mersch of Troy, Texas
Adriana Tapia of Mesa, Arizona

Graduating high school senior Jordan Fox of Lewisville, Texas was selected as the $1,000.00 scholarship recipient of the JROTC scholarship.

Veterans selected to receive four-year scholarships of $4,000.00 are:
Anita Ingram of Darby, Pennsylvania
Benjamin Kimball of Wichita, Kansas
Brad Swanson of Durham, North Carolina

Veterans Ashley Gorbulji of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and Jared Wymer of Seattle, Washington were selected to receive the Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $3,000.00.

Veteran Andrew Bates of Fenton, Michigan was selected to receive The Henry G. Huestis Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $1,000.00

The winners were selected on the basis of academic excellence and financial need. Since its inception in the 1950s, the AMVETS National Scholarship Program has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to veterans and graduating high school students who are sons and daughters or grandchildren of American veterans.

As one of America’s leading veterans service organizations with over 250,000 members, AMVETS (or American Veterans) has a proud history of assisting veterans and sponsoring numerous programs that serve our country and its citizens. Membership in AMVETS is open to anyone who is currently serving, or who has honorably served, in the U.S. Armed Forces from World War II to the present, to include the National Guard and Reserves. Visit for more information on who we are and how to join.

Extending VA’s Reach to Prevent and End Homelessness Among Veterans

The company that hires a once-homeless Veteran; the landlord who accepts her housing voucher; the faith-based group that helps furnish his new apartment; the foundation that shores up her finances; and the civic group that pays a visit to welcome him home.

These are just a few ways that organizations provide a fresh start to Veterans who are exiting homelessness. These collaborators are essential to VA’s success in preventing and ending homelessness among Veterans.

Communities across the United States count on the support of organizations of all types—businesses, nonprofit service providers, foundations and so many others—to help Veterans who are homeless, or one tough break away from it, secure well-paying employment, affordable housing, move-in essentials and more.

Collecting home basics for Veterans exiting homelessness

We know, for instance, that when some formerly homeless Veterans move to permanent housing, they do not yet have the resources to purchase basic essential items—mattresses, sheets and pots and pans—that make their house a home.

Collaborators like Military Outreach USA work with VA and local community partners fill the gaps. With more than 250 organizations and houses of worship in its direct network, and extended reach to 25,000 organizations, this national faith-based nonprofit is making sure Veterans leaving homelessness behind can start a new life in their new home.

Through its Veterans Exiting Homelessness program, Military Outreach USA works with organizations in its network to collect and distribute move-in essentials. During a Chicago-area pilot phase of this soon-to-be-national effort, Military Outreach USA collected over 6,000 items, valued at $12,000 to $15,000, to distribute to Veterans moving into homes. Additionally, through its Beds for Vets initiative, the organization solicits donations of $150 to provide Veterans with full-size beds, box springs and frames, sheets and pillows.

VA cannot end homelessness among Veterans on our own. But when entities like Military Outreach USA join us, Veterans win.

That’s why VA is also working with these groups:

  • AMVETS, which is providing Veterans with move-in essentials
  • YMCA, which is connecting Veterans to VA services and benefits in the areas of employment, homelessness, healthy lifestyle programming and community reintegration
  • The Elks, which committed $4 million over a four-year period to help end Veteran homelessness in Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York City
  • PenFed Foundation, which is helping prevent homelessness by providing emergency financial assistance for Veterans facing financial setbacks and are at risk of becoming homeless
  • The Chrysler Trust, which recently provided $750,000 toward Veteran homeless expenses in Los Angeles, Detroi, and Philadelphia

Providing move-in money

Veterans also can depend on groups like Veterans Matter, which, with the help of 20-plus celebrities raising money and awareness, has helped nearly 1,000 Veterans exit homelessness—all based on founder Ken Leslie’s single conversation with a VA homeless outreach coordinator back in 2012.

“She told me about the Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing program, known as HUD-VASH,” says Leslie. “My VA contact said our 35 local Veterans qualified for HUD-VASH vouchers, but many didn’t have the first month’s rent, security deposit, and other fees required by most private landlords to move in to a rental unit. That very night I created Veterans Matter, to raise the funds those Veterans needed to get housed.”

Actions like these, multiplied by willing allies across the country, are the reason that cities like Houston, New York, Philadelphia and so many others have announced that they’ve ended homelessness among Veterans. Nearly 900 city officials have in fact taken up the national “Mayors Challenge” to identify and house every Veteran who does not have a place to call home.

The insurance company, Progressive, even handed a Veteran at risk of homelessness the keys to a car, and six months of free insurance. As a result, she was able to get to work, earn her salary and stabilize her family’s housing situation.

Filling housing and employment needs

Collaborators like Progressive help VA plug service gaps that we know help end homelessness: transportation, affordable housing, employment and even legal services.

There are organizations like the Housing Partnership Network, whose members are building affordable housing for Veterans from Portland, Oregon, to Pittsburgh; and Goodwill Industries, which is offering hands-on job training to Veterans.

There are firms like Aerotek, Flagger Force Traffic Control, CORT, Progressive, Torani, MetLife, Publix, Task Management, HiEmployment, Staffmark, and many others that have met with VA’s community employment coordinators to collaborate on hiring job-ready Veterans exiting homelessness. And so has FASTPORT’s Trucking Track, which uses technology to help Veterans land the jobs that move America.

Others use their networks to help VA raise awareness about homelessness among Veterans. Real estate powerhouse Zillow recently drew attention to the need for more landlords to rent homes to Veterans who are exiting homelessness—even those with less-than-stellar credit histories. Zillow has also created the Community Pillar program to identify landlords willing to relax strict rules and house more Americans.

Author and entrepreneur Chris Gardner shared his story of being a homeless Veteran, lent many hours volunteering at a VA Stand Down, and still works in multiple ways to draw attention to this issue. He even secured a $5,000 donation from Origami Owl to pay for critical resources to help end homelessness among the growing population of female Veterans.

Finding new allies

These alliances make all the difference in keeping Veterans permanently housed and gainfully employed. But their contributions do even more: Their grass-roots perspectives give us new ideas about ways to better serve Veterans who are homeless.

We salute all our current collaborators, who have joined us to provide vital services to make sure all Veterans have access to the best care and services available. We’re always on the lookout for new allies to enlist in this cause. Please join us by learning about VA’s homeless programs and by getting involved. You can also email our VA’s homeless Veterans’ outreach team and let us know how you want to help. For partnership opportunities beyond homelessness, please feel free to contact Rashi Venkataraman at

If you know a Veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, please refer him or her to a local VA Medical Center, where homeless coordinators are ready to help. Veterans and their families can also call 1-877-4AID-VET to be connected to VA services.

Thank you to all of our wonderful partners for the terrific job they do – day in and day out. We certainly can’t do it alone.


Originally from Michigan, Matthew S. Collier, serves as the senior advisor to the Secretary for Strategic Partnerships. Prior to joining VA, he served as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, held major elective public office, and has worked in the private sector for over 20 years. Collier holds degrees from the United States Military Academy at West Point, as well as from Harvard University. Following his graduation from West Point, and subsequent to his six years of service in the military, Collier served as the chief of staff for a U.S. Congressman, and was then elected as the youngest big city “strong” Mayor in the United States, serving as mayor of Flint, Michigan, from 1987 to 1991. Since that time, Collier has served in executive roles with a variety of high technology companies. These assignments have included over 13 years of president and CEO experience, company ownership, and executive stints in both private and public companies. Appointed by President Obama, Matt is currently serving as Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Strategic Partnerships.

AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary & St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary

The AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary is a subordinate national organization of AMVETS whose members (female veterans or relatives of AMVETS) provide a range of services and support to veterans, communities and other nonprofit organizations. Service programs are the basis of this organization and members extend a helping hand in a variety of ways, nationwide.
Ladies Auxiliary St Jude
AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary members participate in many philanthropic events throughout the country, and they have been volunteering and fundraising for the children of St. Jude since 1998. Along with participating in a variety of fundraising events, auxiliaries, departments and individual members donate to the auxiliary’s St. Jude fund. A check is presented annually for all the donations received at the National Headquarters during the year. 

To learn more about AMVETS Auxiliary, visit

AFSP Honors White House Staffer Bess Evans for Exceptional Service



WASHINGTON (June 14, 2016) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. The nation’s largest organization dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention gave a Federal Award on Tuesday, June 14 at the Allies in Action Awards ceremony to White House staffer Bess Evans for her dedication to suicide prevention. Ms. Evans is the Associate Director and Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of Public Engagement & Domestic Policy Council. Ms. Evans lost a close college friend to suicide.

“We thank Ms. Evans for collaborating with organizations like AFSP, which has led to an important dialogue on how to advance suicide prevention,” said Bob Gebbia, AFSP CEO.

Through her own work in the White House, Bess has tirelessly promoted suicide prevention and mental health policies throughout the federal government, including the Affordable Care Act and efforts to ensure that people across the nation have health coverage for mental health and substance use disorders.

Ms. Evans has been working at the White House for over four years and rose from being a Senior Policy Advisor for Public Engagement in the Office of Science and Technology Policy to her current role. Prior to joining the White House, Evans worked for the Justice Department and also worked on President Obama’s campaign. Originally from Evanston, Illinois, Evans earned her bachelor’s degree from DePauw University in sociology and communications.

** Photos of the award being presented available upon request. **

For media requests: Alexis O’Brien, AFSP PR Director, 347-826-3577 or

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP onFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

AMVETS Medallion Post #13 in Buffalo Celebrates Patriotism and a Community’s Pride

AMVETS Medallion Post #13 in Buffalo Celebrates Patriotism and a Community’s Pride



New murals will add to Buffalo’s cityscape

AMVETS National Memorial Day Sweepstakes Winners Announced


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

AMVETS National Memorial Day Sweepstakes Winners Announced

Thank you to everyone who participated in the AMVETS National Memorial Day Sweepstakes.

The following winners were selected at random, from thousands of entries and have already been notified via phone, but will be receiving a follow-up letter from AMVETS National Headquarters.


Paul Rubalcava, Merced, CA

Larry Dakken, Mayville, ND

Harry Funderwhite, Lakeside, OH

Peter Miller, Potsdam, NY

Harvey Reimer, Scottsboro, AL

Howard Beyer, Bottineau, ND

James Joyce, Patchogue, NY

Joseph Gray, Edgewater, FL

Leo Hines, Defiance, OH

Robert Thornton, Arnoldsville, GA

The money that the sweepstakes has generated will be used to fund the many programs and services that AMVETS provides to our veterans and their families.

If you should have any questions, please contact Kristina Miller, National Publications Editor of AMVETS at


The Mission Continues Launches Inaugural “Mass Deployment” In Detroit

The Mission Continues Launches First Annual “Mass Deployment” In Detroit #OPERATIONMOTOWNMUSTER

Week-Long Service Marathon Aims to Jump-Start Lasting Transformations in Communities of Deepest Need

DETROIT (June 7, 2016) – National veterans nonprofit The Mission Continues is launching a new program that positions veterans to be catalysts for long-term change and positive impact in communities facing daunting challenges. The inaugural Mass Deployment program will send hundreds of veterans and volunteers to participate in a week-long service engagement that will jump-start a long-lasting transformation in a city or community identified with a particularly high level of need.

For the first-ever event of its kind – dubbed Operation Motown Muster – The Mission Continues will bring more than 75 military veterans to Detroit to partner with more than 200 local veterans and community volunteers. Following Operation Motown Muster, The Mission Continues will maintain a sustained veteran volunteer presence in Detroit over the next several years to continuously support local nonprofits invested in revitalizing local neighborhoods.

“With the skills, leadership and experience they cultivated in the military, veterans are uniquely positioned to help accelerate Detroit’s comeback,” said Spencer Kympton, U.S. Army veteran and president of The Mission Continues. “We’re looking forward to an impactful week of service that will make a difference for the people who continue to call Detroit home and that will inspire others to take action and make a long-term positive impact in the community.”

Home to nearly 700,000 residents — many of whom are already hard at work shaping the future of their city — Detroit was a prime location for The Mission Continues’ inaugural Mass Deployment. During Operation Motown Muster, The Mission Continues veterans and local volunteers will add much-needed capacity to local organizations that are carrying on Detroit’s revitalization efforts.

Between June 23 and 30, nearly 300 veterans and volunteers from around the country will report for duty in Detroit for the organization’s first-ever “Mass Deployment” program. Dubbed Operation Motown Muster, over the course of one week, participants will partner with local community organizations to help accelerate the transformation and revitalization happening in Detroit. Each day, the team will deploy and execute a variety of high-impact missions, including construction, landscaping, painting and public arts projects. Specific projects include:

  • Refurbishing indoor and outdoor facilities at Central High School and Priest Elementary School to make the schools a safe and inviting place for students to learn,
  • Beautifying three public parks and future green spaces in the Osborn Neighborhood to create a safe, lively space for families to play, and
  • Cleaning up 40 acres of vacant land and converting portions of the Chene Ferry Market into clean, vibrant spaces for community events and an urban farm.

Following this week-long service marathon, The Mission Continues will maintain a veteran volunteer presence in the city to continually support local Detroit nonprofits over the next several years. And, in 2017, they’ll select a new Mass Deployment city with a goal of jump-starting long-term transformational change in another community.

The Mission Continues has operations across the country that engage veteran volunteers every day to have deep impact on critical challenges facing underserved communities. Veterans participate in operations by serving with The Mission Continues in one of two ways:

  • As a member of a Service Platoon, undertaking regular service missions that leverage veterans’ skills and leadership to make a positive impact.
  • As an individual The Mission Continues Fellow, embedding as a skilled volunteer with one of the operation’s nonprofit partners for a period of six months.

To learn more about The Mission Continues’ programs and opportunities to get involved, visit

About The Mission Continues

The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. Our operations in cities across the country deploy veteran volunteers alongside non-profit partners and community leaders to solve some of the most challenging issues facing our communities: improving community education resources, eliminating food deserts, mentoring at-risk youth and more. Through this unique model, veterans build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate to life after the military while making long-term, sustainable transformations in communities and inspiring future generations to serve. To learn more, visit: or follow us on Twitter @missioncontinue.

For more information, please contact:

Laura L’Esperance, The Mission Continues


L.A. Awards Luncheon Spotlights Military Veteran Employment Issues

Media Contact:
Emanuela Cariolagian
(323) 644-2111


JVS partners and donors helped raise nearly $500,000 to support JVS programs

May 2016 (Los Angeles, CA) – Military veteran employment issues were front and center at the 19th Annual JVS Strictly Business L.A. Awards Luncheon that took place Thursday, May 12, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, as Dan Goldenberg, a highly regarded national advocate for veterans, addressed hundreds of business owners, professionals, entrepreneurs and philanthropists gathered to support a luncheon with a purpose. Award-winning NBC4 broadcaster Fritz Coleman returned for his 4th year as event host.

One of the city’s premiere networking events, JVS Strictly Business highlights the life-changing work of JVSLA, a nonprofit, non-sectarian agency dedicated to lifting people out of poverty by helping them overcome barriers and challenges to employment. Critical funds raised through Strictly Business help support the life-changing programs of JVS that give its many diverse clients the training, tools and resources they need to become economically self-sufficient.

This year’s event raised over $400,000, with $120,000 of that amount donated during an urgent appeal at the event.

Dan Goldenberg is executive director of Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty Endowment, a leading funder of veteran employment-focused organizations nationwide, establishing best practices, promoting veteran hiring, and supporting organizations like JVS that are helping former service members transition into civilian careers.

Since 2009, Activision Blizzard, through the Call of Duty Endowment, has provided more than $18 million in grants to veteran organizations throughout the U.S. These gifts have helped place 22,752 veterans into high-quality careers.

The JVS Veterans First program is a multiple-year recipient of Call of Duty Endowment funding and a partner in the regional effort to place military veterans into high-quality jobs.

In his keynote address that provided insights into the state of veteran employment in L.A. and in the United States, Goldenberg cited a 2015 government report said that young, post-9/11 veterans are three times more likely to be unemployed than the average American, despite the fact that their military skills, experience, and accomplishments are sought after in the civilian job market.

Goldenberg pointed to a schism between statistics presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that says veteran unemployment is down and what veterans are actually experiencing regarding civilian employment.

“We know government unemployment numbers are off because our grantees from across the country—that serve upwards of 5,000 veterans each quarter—have seen a 15 percent increase in demand for their employment services compared to this time last year,” said Goldenberg, who has 24 years of active and reserve military service and over a decade of corporate experience. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Harvard Business School and the Air Command and Staff College.

“Something just doesn’t add up when the organizations on the ground are experiencing a significant uptick in demand for their employment services,” Goldenberg said.

Goldenberg said, however, that Call of Duty Endowment grantee partners, all of whom are carefully vetted to assure they are effective in their mission, are reporting tremendous success in their work: the six-month retention rate for vets placed by Call of Duty Endowment grantees is 89 percent, which outpaces the average, and starting salaries of the vets placed by its partners average above $50,000. “Considering that the national average starting salary for new college graduates is $45,000, it’s fair to say our grantees are doing a terrific job,” he said, adding, “JVS is one of the very special organizations we’ve worked with for some time that’s had great impact.”

During the luncheon JVS also honored Universal Protection Service, one of the largest American-owned security services providers, with its Corporate Partnership Award for its significant contributions to a public-private-nonprofit partnership that creates meaningful change in the community. A division of Universal Services of America, the Santa Ana-based company works closely with JVS to put veterans and other job seekers back to work.

A military-friendly employer, Universal Protection Service is committed to offering opportunities to job seekers in underserved communities as well as to hiring veterans who bring unique skills and training to the industry. They are partners in the national 100,000 Opportunities Initiative and locally in Mayor Garcetti’s 10,000 Strong Veterans Hiring Initiative.

Regional Recruiter Richard S. Lopez, Jr., representing the company, said: “The relationship between JVS and Universal Protection Service is grounded in our shared commitment to workforce development. Over the past eight years, we have come together to meet the changing staffing and employment needs throughout the greater Los Angeles Region.”

JVS presented its Inspiration Award to three JVS clients whose successes illustrate the mission of the agency to help lift people out of poverty and over significant barriers to employment. This year’s recipients included Roland Williams, a formerly homeless veteran now employed as an apartment maintenance technician; Deborah Smith, a survivor of domestic violence who now works for Wells Fargo, and James Acosta, a formerly out-of-school and unemployed youth now employed at Starbucks and working toward his high school diploma. A video about the honorees can be viewed here:

In 2016 JVSLA marked a significant transition in its leadership as it installed new Board President Harris Smith and welcomed new CEO Alan S. Levey.

JVS is a nonprofit, non-sectarian organization celebrating its 85th anniversary of service this year.

AMVETS To Receive $75,000 Donation

We are grateful to the Donald Trump Foundation for its generous donation, as it will provide substantial support to continue our mission and proud history of assisting veterans and their families.

Donations to our organization fund a multitude of programs to enhance and safeguard the entitlements for all American Veterans who have served honorably and to improve the quality of life for them, their families, and the communities where they live through leadership, advocacy and services.

AMVETS Executive Director, Joe Chenelly, an OIF/OEF Marine Corps Veteran, said Tuesday, “At our core, we are a non-partisan organization, dedicated to fight for veterans and their families.”

Chenelly continued, “We appreciate the generous contribution, as it will help immensely, but we do not support or oppose any political candidate or party. That cannot and will not change.”

AMVETS membership is open to anyone who is currently serving, or who has honorably served, in the U.S. Armed Forces from World War II to the present, to include the National Guard and Reserves. AMVETS is one of America’s leading veterans service organizations with over 250,000 members. AMVETS (or American Veterans) is a non-partisan veteran service organization (VSO) with numerous programs that serve our veterans, service-members, country and its citizens. Donations of any kind do not imply endorsement to any political campaigns.

Contact/Inquiries: David Gai, National Communications Director, AMVETS
4647 Forbes Blvd.
Lanham, MD 20706

AMVETS National Commander on VA Secretary’s Remarks

Contact/Inquiries: Kristina Miller
4647 Forbes Blvd.
Lanham, MD 20706

Statement from AMVETS National Commander Jim Pidgeon on VA Secretary’s Remarks

The overall experience for veterans, or “customers,” at U.S. Veterans Affairs medical centers has been lacking in quality for far too long. AMVETS (American Veterans) is pleased that the VA is working toward the important measurement of customer satisfaction. That metric is central to all private medical care systems, as well at VA.

VA Secretary Bob McDonald’s unfortunate remarks Monday in which he drew a loose comparison between wait times veterans were facing to receive medical care and the lines for rides at Disneyland were not serious enough for the matter at hand. Waiting for VA medical care should not be compared to waiting in line at an amusement park. It is important to continue tracking and reducing wait times for veterans.

That said, this one sentence does not reflect the full context of McDonald’s overall message and the work being done at VA. In the full context, the need to focus on veteran satisfaction is something that can be agreed with by most, if not all, veterans and their families.

McDonald was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a deeply partisan era in large part because of his successful business experience in bringing customers what they need and want. While his latest remarks were easy to spin, the fact is Disney is one of many successful business models the VA can look to through its ongoing transformation.

The VA remains focused on industry and businesses’ best practices and efforts to increase access and reduce wait times. The overall experience must be improved, and AMVETS is hopeful the new MyVA efforts and applications of business and industry best practices are positive steps in that direction.

AMVETS is committed to comprehensive transformation of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Administration to best serve every veteran. AMVETS will continue working with McDonald and the rest of the VA leadership in a collaborative, transparent effort to create an overall positive experience for every VA “customer.”