AMVETS in Action

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AMVETS Reacts To President Trump’s Executive Order on VA Accountability

For Immediate Release

Contact: John Hoellwarth
National Communications Director
AMVETS (American Veterans)
(703) 628-9621

AMVETS Reacts To President Trump’s Executive Order on VA Accountability

AMVETS National Headquarters, April 27, 2017 – The executive order President Donald Trump signed today directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection is a welcomed and necessary move toward encouraging whistleblowers and eliminating problem employees within the department, AMVETS (American Veterans) National Executive Director Joe Chenelly announced today.

“The VA has some of the most dedicated people in the American workforce, but the agency has been plagued by legal inability to hold accountable a very small number of bad actors disgracing the agency. AMVETS hopes this new effort finally gives leadership the resources and authority it needs to rid the VA of those who are doing veterans harm. In the same vein, we hope this enables Secretary Shulkin and his team to recruit and retain the very best,” Chenelly said. “We are encouraged that this effort focuses on protecting and supporting brave whistleblowers who step up when they see something wrong. Hopefully this is real reform that rewards courage and integrity while stomping out whistleblower reprisal.”

AMVETS is the largest and oldest Congressionally chartered veterans service organization open to and fighting for all veterans who have honorably served in the United States armed forces, including the Reserve and National Guard.

Media interested in speaking with Chenelly may contact AMVETS Communications Director John Hoellwarth at the phone number and e-mail address listed above.


Some Vets Can Go to CVS ‘MinuteClinics’ For Minor Illnesses

By Hope Yen | Associated Press

(ABC News) Some ailing veterans can now use their federal health care benefits at CVS “MinuteClinics” to treat minor illnesses and injuries, under a pilot program announced Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The new program, currently limited to the Phoenix area, comes three years after the VA faced allegations of chronically long wait times at its centers, including its Phoenix facility, which treats about 120,000 veterans.

The Phoenix pilot program is a test-run by VA Secretary David Shulkin who is working on a nationwide plan to reduce veterans’ wait times.

Veterans would not be bound by current restrictions under the VA’s Choice program, which limits outside care to those who have been waiting more than 30 days for an appointment or have to drive more than 40 miles to a facility. Instead, Phoenix VA nurses staffing the medical center’s help line will be able to refer veterans to MinuteClinics for government-paid care when “clinically appropriate.”

Shulkin has made clear he’d like a broader collaboration of “integrated care” nationwide between the VA and private sector in which veterans have wider access to private doctors. But, he wants the VA to handle all scheduling and “customer service” — something that veterans groups generally support but government auditors caution could prove unwieldy and expensive.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump plans to sign legislation to temporarily extend the $10 billion Choice program until its money runs out, pending the administration’s plan due out by fall. That broader plan would have to be approved by Congress.

“Our number one priority is getting veterans’ access to care when and where they need it,” said Baligh Yehia, the VA’s deputy undersecretary for health for community care. “The launch of this partnership will enable VA to provide more care for veterans in their neighborhoods.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a long-time advocate of veterans’ expanded access to private care, lauded the new initiative as an “important step forward.”

“Veterans in need of routine health care services should not have to wait in line for weeks to get an appointment when they can visit community health centers like MinuteClinic to receive timely and convenient care,” he said.

The Veterans Health Administration said it opted to go with a CVS partnership in Phoenix after VA officials there specifically pushed for the additional option. They cited the feedback of local veterans and the success of a smaller test run with CVS last year in Palo Alto, Calif.

» Continue the Story

Original Source: Some vets can go to CVS ‘MinuteClinics’ for minor illnesses

AMVETS Joins Evaluators Panel for VA Health Care Innovation Competition

Left to right: Secretary of Veteran Affairs David Shulkin and AMVETS Naitonal Commander Harold Chapman look on during “Because We Care” Day at the VA Medical Center in D.C. April 5.

Via the Dept. of Veteran Affairs

For the first time, AMVETS is partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on a trailblazing competition that identifies and spreads health care innovations and best practices across VA. The Under Secretary for Health (USH) Shark Tank competition, inspired by ABC television’s Shark Tank, recognizes enterprising VA employees who are solving some of the department’s toughest challenges.

The USH Shark Tank Competition supports the VHA Diffusion of Excellence Initiative, which identifies and spreads innovations and best practices that promote positive outcomes for Veterans system-wide. The goal of the USH Shark Tank Competition is to identify promising practices that address VHA’s priorities of improving access, care coordination, employee engagement, quality and safety, and the Veteran experience.

“VA has a longstanding partnership with the AMVETS and other Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) related to improving Veteran access and support related to VA benefits and services,” explains Dr. Poonam L. Alaigh, VA’s Acting Under Secretary for Health. “Their knowledge will help us identify better and more promising health care solutions.”

The USH Third Shark Tank Competition solicited promising practices from front line VHA employees throughout the nation. During the first round of evaluation, winners from prior USH Shark Tank competitions, Medical Center and Veteran Integrated Service Network (VISN) Directors, and other subject matter experts from the field will evaluate the applications and recommend approximately 100 Semifinalists. During the second round of evaluation, VHA program office and VSOs leaders will evaluate the semifinalists and recommend finalists to proceed to the third USH virtual Shark Tank competition. The evaluator’s feedback and scores will assist VHA leaders in selecting approximately 20 finalists. At the USH Third Shark Tank Competition, Finalists will pitch their promising practices to Medical Center and VISN Director “Sharks”, who will bid resources to the practice, hoping their improvements will be selected as “Gold Status” practices and adopted nationwide.

“AMVETS has a proud history of assisting Veterans and sponsoring programs that serve our country and its citizens,” said Joseph R. Chenelly, AMVETS’s executive director. “We’re pleased to work with VA to increase innovation within its health care system.”

In the first two USH Shark Tank Competitions, the evaluators included VHA leaders, as well as clinicians and staff from facilities across VHA. For the USH Third Shark Tank Competition, AMVETS leaders will serve as Evaluators, along with representatives from five other VSOs.

“VHA is proud to have VSO partners on the evaluators panel,” said Dr. Shereef M. Elnahal, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Health for Quality, Safety, and Value. “We know they will use their experience to identify promising solutions that offer unique value to Veterans and their families.”

A Practice awarded “Gold Status” will proceed with implementation in the winning Shark’s facility or VISN, improving the system from the ground up. An employee recognized as a “Gold Status” Fellow, spend the subsequent six months guiding other the winning Shark’s facility or VISN in adapting and implementing the Gold Status practice.

Already, VHA is implementing more than 400 Diffusion of Excellence program replications at more than 70 of its health care facilities. Previous “Gold Status” practices have ranged from efforts to increase the availability of an opioid overdose treatment among clinical and community partners, to increasing wound care access for rural Veterans through telehealth, to a new way for VA physicians to review specialty care requests as soon as they are made.

Presentations for the next national “Shark Tank’ competition will take place in June. AMVETS and other service organizations have already been given sets of promising practice proposals to review.

AMVETS ‘Employer of the Year”

Since 1983, the AMVETS Veteran Friendly Employer of the Year Awards program recognizes employers from the private sector and government (local, state and federal) who have made great strides to by providing employment to our veterans.

The AMVETS Veteran Friendly Employer of the Year Awards recognize organizations based on their commitment to serving veterans through both their hiring practices and community involvement. This award allows our organization to recognize those employers who make a commitment to including veterans in their organizational culture. Through community service, fundraisers, and veteran preference hiring practices, employers are showing their continued dedication to improving the lives of veterans throughout the United States. We hope you will take the time to tell us about some of these employers so that we may get the chance to recognize their outstanding achievements.Below are examples of our past winners, AECOM and the Washington State Corps of Engineers.

Named as one of Fortune magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” for two consecutive years, AECOM is a pillar of the engineering world. In 2015, AECOM hired almost 4,000 new employees; over 1,100 of those new hires are veterans. Over 250 of those veterans are disabled. In total, AECOM employs over 9,000 veterans. AECOM is truly a Veteran Friendly employer; they prove that companies value the unique training and experience the military provides. Thank you, AECOM, for your commitment to hiring our nation’s heroes. Please accept our award of Employer of the Year for your outstanding veteran-friendly employment.

The United States Corps of Engineers employs 37,000 dedicated civil servants in 130 countries around the world. The Department of the Army, Washington State Corps of Engineers employs over 1,700 engineers and civil servants in the state of Washington to further the mission of the Corps of Engineers to “deliver vital public and military engineering services.” In 2015, Washington State Corps of Engineers hired 259 new hires, 102 of which are veterans. Of those 102 veterans, 39 are disabled veterans and 12 are women veterans. Thank you, Washington State Corps of Engineers, for actively pursuing Veteran candidates and prioritizing the hiring of local veterans. Please accept our award of Employer of the Year for your outstanding veteran-friendly employment.

All submissions can be mailed to:

AMVETS Programs
4647 Forbes Blvd.
Lanham, MD 20706

Questions/concerns can be addressed to Stephanie Mullen at

AMVETS Holds Successful ‘Because We Care’ Day

AMVET posts across the country supported VA Medical Centers during it’s annual ‘Because We Care’ day April 5.

In particular, AMVETS Department of DC played host to our National Headquarters, who established a table in the DC VAMC main lobby and drew in several veterans seeking membership and visited many more while distributing personal care kits. Secretary of Veteran Affairs David Shulkin attended the event, addressing the media and numerous veterans whom had travelled to see him.Secretary Shulkin also took time to visit several ill veterans residing at the hospital to ask about their stay, their thoughts on several VA enhancements, and thank them for their service.

Thank you to our posts and AMVETS representatives who truly made this day about serving our fellow veterans, and our DC department for sharing the experience with National.

Photos of the event can be found via the AMVETS National Headquarter’s Facebook page.

AMVETS Post 34 Awards Eagle Scouts

AMVETS Post 34 Awards Eagle Scout

Baltimore County AMVETS awarded the AMVETS National Commander’s Eagle Scout Certificate to three Eagle Scouts, March 22. The scouts were honored for their outstanding projects which benefitted their community.

AMVETS 34 members (from left to right) Ed Wisniewski, Phil Beinke Jr., Jim Budny, and Ron Hall, pose with Eagle Scouts Ian Budny, Spencer Bernhardt and Danny Soto, for a photo.

AMVETS Partners with The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration


Contact: Miles Migliara
National Publications Editor
AMVETS (American Veterans)
(301) 459-9600

AMVETS Partners with The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration

AMVETS National Headquarters, March 28,2017 – AMVETS (American Veterans) is proud to announce our partnership with the Vietnam War Commemoration to recognize and respect the members of our Armed Forces who served during the Vietnam war.

“Unfortunately, our military did not receive a warm welcome when they came back to the states from Vietnam. In fact, they faced hostility and conflict when it came to employment and the pursuit of The American Dream,” said AMVETS National Commander Harold Chapman. “A partnership with the Commemoration signifies a change in how perceive that era in history, and hopefully sets a precedent for how servicemen and women experience homecoming in the future.”

Being the most inclusive veteran service organization, AMVETS seeks to further support a generation of our military that was extended very little gratitude upon their arrival home. Through this collaboration, we seek to provide those veterans with the honor and appreciation earned through their undying service to their country.

If you wish to interview Commander Chapman or any AMVETS representative, please contact us through

AMVETS is the nation’s largest and oldest Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization that is open to and fights for all veterans who served honorably, including reservists & guardsmen. AMVETS has been a nonpartisan advocate for veterans and their families for more than 70 years.


AMVETS PNC Marks One Year of 22-Pushup Challenge

AMVETS National Headquarters, March 1, 2017 – Past AMVETS National Commander James Pidgeon today marked his 365th consecutive day of participation in the 22-pushups every day challenge to raise awareness for the alarming nationwide rate of veterans’ suicide.

Department of Veterans Affairs statistics have shown that an average of 22 veterans commit suicide nationwide every day. Pidgeon marked his one-year anniversary in support of the effort to reduce veterans’ suicide by doing 22 pushups at the VA hospital in Fresno, California.

Pidgeon served as AMVETS national commander from 2015-2016, and made it the focus of his tenure in office to raising awareness for the problem of veterans’ suicide and to commit AMVETS to reducing the alarming rate at which these tragic deaths occur.

AMVETS is the largest and oldest Congressionally chartered veterans service organization open to and fighting for all veterans who have honorably served in the United States armed forces, including the Reserve and National Guard.