AMVETS in Action

Category: Frontpage

VA Accountability Act Press Conference

AMVETS’ National Executive Director, Stewart Hickey, participated in a joint press conference with House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC) Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and other national veterans service organizations to demonstrate support for the VA Accountability Act (H.R. 1994, S. 1082). The VA Accountability Act would offer protection for whistleblowers, and empower VA Secretary McDonald to fire VA employees for misconduct or poor performance.

View the entire press conference below, or click here to just view AMVETS’ comments.

VA Expands Choice Program Eligibility

On August 7, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-146) (Choice Act). Technical revisions to the Choice Act were made on September 26, 2014, when the President signed into law the Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-175) and on December 16, 2014, when the President signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235).

The Choice Act required VA to implement the Veterans Choice Program through an interim final rule, and on November 5, 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published an interim final rulemaking. In that rulemaking, VA adopted a straight-line method for determining eligibility for the Program based on the distance between a Veteran’s place of residence and the closest VA medical facility.

On April 24, 2015, VA published a second interim final rule that changed the way VA measures distance for purposes of determining eligibility. VA now considers the distance a Veteran must drive to the nearest VA medical facility, rather than the straight-line or geodesic distance to such a facility. This results in an expansion of eligibility for the Choice Program.

VA is pleased to announce this expansion effective today.

Effective immediately, VA is also changing the mileage calculation for beneficiary travel. The change will ensure consistency in VA’s mileage calculations. The beneficiary travel mileage calculation will now be made using the fastest route instead of the shortest route.

A Veteran who meets threshold eligibility criteria may be eligible for the Choice Program based on the distance from his or her place of residence to the closest VA medical facility. VA previously determined eligibility based on place of residence using a straight-line measure of distance. VA is now using a driving distance measure.

For example: Under the new distance calculation, a Veteran who lives 40 miles or less, measured using a straight-line distance, from the nearest VA medical facility, but who needs to physically drive more than 40 miles to get there would be eligible for the Veterans Choice Program. Under the previous straight-line distance calculation, this Veteran would not have been eligible for the Program unless he or she was required to wait for an appointment longer than 30 days from his or her preferred date or the date determined to be medically necessary by his or her physician.

The expansion in eligibility increases Veterans’ access to high quality, timely healthcare. VA looks forward to continued collaboration with Veterans and our partners to ensure the success of the Veterans Choice Program.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: When is this rule change effective?
A: The interim final rule was published in the Federal Register on April 24, 2015, and is effective immediately upon publication.

Q: Why is VA changing this criterion now?
A: The change in criterion to the program will allow more Veterans to access care when and where they want it. VA believes a driving distance calculation is consistent with the law. The Choice Act does not state how distance should be calculated for purposes of determining eligibility based on place of residence. The straight-line measure adopted by the first interim final rule was consistent with language in the legislative history of the Choice Act. .

Q: What mapping tool is used to calculate the 40 miles?
A: VA will use the commercial product that is used by VA’s long-established beneficiary travel program. Because different mapping tools use different proprietary programming, the results may vary among products.

Q: Is the distance calculated the same way that is used to calculate mileage for beneficiary travel?
A: The mapping tool for beneficiary travel will now calculate the driving distance using the fastest route rather than the shortest route. This is a change to the beneficiary travel program that will make the distance determinations under the beneficiary travel program consistent with distance calculations under the Veterans Choice Program. The fastest route was chosen as the standard to ensure fairness to Veterans.

Q: Is it still 40 miles from any VA medical facility or is it 40 miles from a VA medical facility that actually provides the care needed?
A: This Choice Act requires VA to measure the distance from the Veteran’s residence to the closest VA medical facility, even if that facility does not provide the care that is needed. Absent a statutory change, VA does not have the flexibility to adopt an alternative approach. We are working with Congress to seek possible alternatives.

Q: How does VA plan to notify newly eligible Veterans?
A: All potentially eligible Veterans already received a Veterans Choice Card. VA will send follow-up letters notifying Veterans who are eligible under the revised mileage calculation.

Q: Who can a Veteran call if they have questions about the Veterans Choice Program or do not remember receiving their Veterans Choice Card?
A: If a Veteran does not remember receiving a Veterans Choice Card or has other questions about the Choice Program, they can call (866) 606-8198.

Q: Where can I get more information about the program?
A: Please review the VA Choice website at

Univ. of Phoenix AMVETS Scholarship

Related: Apply Here for 2016 Scholarship:

2015 Recipients Announced!

AMVETS ScholarshipsScholarship program provides 20 full-tuition scholarships to active-duty service members, eligible family members and veterans

PHOENIX, Feb. 10, 2015 – University of Phoenix and AMVETS, an advocate for veterans’ education, awarded 20 full-tuition scholarships to active-duty service members, eligible family members and veterans to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree from University of Phoenix. AMVETS has teamed with University of Phoenix since 2007, offering 325 scholarships to demonstrate the appreciation of the sacrifice active-duty service members, their families and veterans make for the country and to help them transition from the military to the civilian sector.

University of Phoenix AMVETS Scholarship recipients are:

  • Ronald Camacho of Oceanside, Calif.
  • Marie Cooper of Tinley Park, Ill.
  • Brittany Diaz of Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Kathryn Jones of Port Saint Lucie, Fla.
  • Trent Maxwell of Kings Bay, Ga.
  • Sheila Morrow of E. Saint Louis, Ill.
  • Shelia Palmer of Felton, Del.
  • Rebecca Parks of Salem, Va.
  • Karen Ramirez of Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Ethan Ramsey of Yuma, Ariz.
  • Tiffany Rupp of Hope Mills, N.C.
  • Wanda Shires of Chesterfield, Va.
  • Jill Slate of Camarillo, Calif.
  • James Stephens of Middletown, Del.
  • Ashley Stimac of Stafford, Va.
  • Edward Stimac of Stafford, Va.
  • Kevin Thieme of Delia, Kan.
  • Jimmy Tidwell of Lawrence, Tenn.
  • Jamie Train of Derby, Kan.
  • Michael Wainwright of Brockport, N.Y.

“We are so very grateful for our long standing education partnership with University of Phoenix. This is truly a commitment that changes the lives of the recipients,” said AMVETS National Commander Larry E. Via. “These scholarships are an important part of our mission to help all veterans. In particular, our post-9/11 recipients can attain their educational goals as they strive to make a successful reintegration back into the civilian world.”

“We have a responsibility to help educate America’s transitioning service members, their families and veterans for career opportunities in both the military and civilian sectors,” said University of Phoenix Military Relations Vice President retired Army Col. Garland Williams. “The 2014 University of Phoenix AMVETS Scholarships provides the 20 recipients an access to education opportunities to help increase their professional skill sets to secure future career opportunities.”

Even though the post-9/11 veterans unemployment rate is improving compared to a year ago1, there is still an urgent need to provide education and career services for transitioning active-duty service members, their families and veterans. University of Phoenix and AMVETS understand the critical need for America’s military to educationally distinguish themselves among job seekers in today’s competitive employment landscape.

Applications for the 2015 University of Phoenix AMVETS Scholarships will be accepted May 5, 2015, through Sept. 8, 2015, and scholarship recipients will be announced on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2015.

For more information on how to apply for the 2015 University of Phoenix AMVETS Scholarships and for scholarship requirements, please visit when the scholarship application period opens on May 5, 2015.

A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, 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 citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserve. To learn more, visit

About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit

Eddie Ozzie Awards


2014 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Award Honorable Mention

The annual Folio: magazine Eddie and Ozzie Award — is the largest and most inclusive awards program of its kind in the magazine publishing industry. The Eddies recognize excellence in magazine editorial and the Ozzies recognize excellence in magazine design. The Folio: team, along with a prestigious panel of 300+ judges recognized the redesign of our national magazine, American Veteran, as one of the very best in design from the more than 2,800 overall entries received this year.

Learn more >

Comcast Newsmakers

AMVETS’ Executive Director Stewart Hickey discusses resources for Gulf War veterans on Comcast Newsmakers

2015 Spring NEC/Silver Helmet Banquet

2015 Spring NEC

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 – Saturday, March 7, 2015 (EST)

Hotel Information:
Hilton Alexandria Mark Center
5000 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22311

Phone: (800) 445-8997 or (703) 845-1010
Room Rate: $117.00
Cut-off Date: February 9, 2015
Parking: $8.00/night

Congressional Reception/Commander’s Testimony

Thursday, March 5, 2015 (EST)

Buses will depart from the hotel at 7:00 am. Seating is limited to 110 individuals. To reserve seating, please contact Chateau Mangaroo at

2015 Silver Helmet Banquet

Friday, March 6, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM (EST)

The Silver Helmet Awards Banquet is held annually in conjunction with the AMVETS Spring National Executive Committee meeting. In addition to AMVETS members, the audience includes cabinet members‚ members of Congress and military officials who come to pay tribute to the recipients of the award and AMVETS.

AMVETS Post 4 in Tampa Bay Helps Feed the Hungry

TAMPA BAY, FL – Feeding America is the largest domestic hunger relief organization in the country, and their Tampa Bay chapter is the largest food distribution center in the area. Feeding America Tampa Bay moved over 43 million pounds of food last year alone. Food is donated by wholesalers, grocery stores and local farmers, picked up every morning and distributed at places like AMVETS Post 4 on Skipper Road.

AMVETS Announces Thanksgiving Sweepstakes Winners

LANHAM, Md., November 25, 2014—AMVETS leaders this week congratulated AMVETS 2014 Thanksgiving Sweepstakes grand prize winner George Wittrock. AMVETS National Executive Director Stewart M. Hickey personally called George Wittrock to congratulate him on winning the $10,000 sweepstakes grand prize.

AMVETS selected the 10 lucky sweepstakes winners from approximately 115,000 entries from around the country for prizes ranging from $500 to the $10,000 grand prize. The drawing took place today at the AMVETS National Headquarters in Lanham, MD.

Proceeds from the sweepstakes will help support AMVETS’ continuing mission to deliver quality of life programs for veterans and their families. Be sure to look for the next AMVETS Sweepstakes entry form in the mail in February 2015.

2014 Thanksgiving Sweepstakes winners:

$10,000.00 – George Wittrock, Seattle, WA
$5,000.00 – Cindy Klima, Cedar Rapids, IA
$2,500.00 – Cindy Klima, Cedar Rapids, IA
$1,000.00 – William C. O’Connell, Randolph, MA
$500.00 – David S. Wirkala, Yarmouth, ME
$500.00 – Charles Hickson, Suffolk, VA
$500.00 – Leonard Malczewski, Neenah, WI
$500.00 – Billie Cook, Killeen, TX
$500.00 – Cheryl E. Papp, Columbus, OH
$500.00 – J. Wallington, Spartanburg, SC

A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, 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 citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit