AMVETS Names Afghanistan, Iraq Veteran National Executive Director
Chenelly is a longtime veterans advocate, former military reporter and political advisor
WASHINGTON – AMVETS (American Veterans) has tapped one of the veterans’ community’s top grassroots organizers to take over as national executive director of the nonprofit organization.
Marine Corps combat veteran Joseph R. Chenelly will oversee AMVETS, one of the nation’s largest Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization, working to better serve veterans of all eras in both Washington, D.C., and in communities nationwide.
Chenelly is a veteran of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Kuwait, the Horn of Africa and East Timor. After his time in uniform, Chenelly became a veterans’ advocate, a journalist and a political adviser, organizing nationally at the grassroots levels and advising on veterans and military matters.
In his new role, Chenelly is charged with using that experience to inspire and organize AMVETS’ 250,000 members in 1,400 posts to educate the public on the challenges facing those currently serving in the active/guard/reserve components, veterans and their families.
“We are in a very challenging time, one of the most important for the future of veterans health care. We have every confidence that 2016 has the potential to be one of the most decisive, pivotal years in AMVETS history,” said Chenelly.
AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s veterans and citizens alike. AMVETS includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to help lead this great, historic organization in fighting for all of the more than 22 million American Veterans alive today as well as their families,” Chenelly said. “It is a difficult time for America’s warriors, a time when we need to stand together stronger than ever. Every veteran matters. The challenges are serious and far reaching, much needs to be done. I am honored to join a group of such dedicated members – the AMVETS family.”
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Chenelly enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in March 1998, serving with the 1st Marine Division, and was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant in April 2006. He then covered military and veterans matters as a staff writer for Leatherneck magazine, the Military Times newspapers, and Gannett, reporting on operations in the Middle East, Southwest Asia, Africa, as well as disaster relief in the United States.
Chenelly was named one of the 100 “most influential journalists covering armed violence” by AOAV in 2013. He was the first U.S. Marine combat correspondent to step into enemy territory after September 11, 2001, as a military reporter in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He also reported from the frontlines with American and allied forces in Kuwait and Iraq as that war began. He was on the ground for the start of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Chenelly served as AMVETS’ national communications director in 2005 and for the past eight years as assistant national director for communications for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) in Washington, D.C., leading grassroots efforts through social networking and new media.
He’s also served as president of Social Communications, LLC, and a public affairs director for the Department of Navy. Chenelly is an alum of Syracuse University and Central Texas College.
Chenelly resides in Fairport, N.Y., with his wife Dawn, a service-connected disabled Air Force veteran, and their five children. He is on Facebook at fb.com/joe.chenelly and Twitter @jchenelly.