AMVETS in Action

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“The Big 6” United Behind Veterans First Act

“The Big 6” United Behind Veterans First Act

(Washington, D.C.)–The Veterans Service Organizations who are most often called before Congress for testimony on the state of Veterans Affairs, known in D.C. as “The Big 6,” are joining together to call on the Senate to vote on the Veterans First Act. While each has been engaged separately in traditional methods of calling for votes–such as letter-writing and email campaigns– they’re maximizing the power of social media to expand their outreach and get more veterans engaged.

“The AMVETS family is in full support of the Veterans First Act. Eliminating arbitrary eligibility requirements is crucial to ensuring family caregivers of veterans from all eras receive the support they deserve and need. We support the mandate on VA to research the association between toxic exposures and health effects among exposed veterans’ offspring.”–Joe Chenelly, Executive Director, AMVETS

“We’ve recognized that Congress is starting to respond to pressure from social media, so we are doing the best we can to optimize the impact each of our members has by enlisting them to assist in less traditional ways. While Twitter may not be used by most Vietnam veterans on a regular basis, our kids and our grandkids use it. Our families will be helped most by the Toxic Exposure Research provisions within the Veterans First Act, and we are glad to bring them into the fold so they can help us let the Senate know that we all deserve a vote.”–John Rowan, National President, Vietnam Veterans of America

“The VFW strongly supports passage of the Veterans First Act because it rightfully eliminates arbitrary eligibility requirements to ensure family caregivers of veterans from all eras receive the recognition and support they deserve. It requires the VA to research the association between toxic exposures and adverse health effects among the descendants of exposed veterans, and it makes urgently needed improvements to the choice program, which would ensure veterans who receive care from private sector doctors are not erroneously billed for that care.”–Robert E. Wallace, VFW Executive Director.

“The provision within the Veterans First Act that allows for the expansion of the Family Caregiver Program is a top priority for Paralyzed Veterans of America members. Caregivers are life-sustaining for veterans with a spinal cord or disease. They are the most critical component of our rehabilitation and eventual recovery, and their well-being directly impacts the quality of care provided to veterans. Caregivers for veterans of all wartimes should be provided with adequate benefits and resources, yet caregivers of pre-9/11 are made to bear the responsibility—and the toll it takes on their own personal and professional lives—alone. We urge the prompt passage of this legislation so that this inequity will finally be addressed.”– Sherman Gillums, Jr, Paralyzed Veterans of America Executive Director

“The American Legion stands with our sister Veteran Service Organizations to support the Veterans First Act. This bipartisan legislation has one third of the senate as cosponsors and will ensure that veterans have access to a Department of Veterans Affairs that maintains accountability, organized leadership, and parity of services for all generations of caregivers.”–Verna Davis, Executive Director, The American Legion

“DAV strongly supports Senate passage of the Veterans First Act, which would extend comprehensive caregiver support to veterans of all eras. The legislation would also increase veterans’ options for long-term care through medical foster homes; enhance VA’s efforts to recruit and retain the best and brightest medical professionals; reform claims and appeals processing by creating a fully developed appeals pilot program; and make dozens of other positive changes to improve the lives of the men and women who served. DAV looks forward to working together with leaders in both chambers of Congress, the VA, and other key stakeholders to enact comprehensive legislation to help keep the promise to all eras of America’s veterans.”–Garry J. Augustine, Executive Director, Disabled American Veterans

The Big 6 Veteran Service Organizations are asking their members, families, and supporters to join them during this campaign by using the hashtag #Vote4Vets1st in our Twitter Storm. The Veterans First Act is a bipartisan effort to improve accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs, provide critical benefits to veterans in need, and improve existing programs. The veterans’ community deserves a vote on the Senate floor before Congress is dismissed for summer recess. In order for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fulfill Lincoln’s promise “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan,” they must prioritize veterans over politics and pass the Veterans First Act.

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“Salute To Veterans”, featuring Rocky Bleier, Greg Gadson and Chad Hennings

Airing Tonight: The Premiere of “Salute To Veterans”, featuring Rocky Bleier, Greg Gadson and Chad Hennings, and PBS’ Judy Woodruff

By: Kristina Miller

AMVETS was fortunate enough to sit down with all three athletes as they prepared to go on air to discuss military service, their success in the NFL and that continued commitment to success throughout transition in this new social-interactive televised format #SaluteToVeterans, which will be airing tonight and tomorrow for the 4th of July Holiday.

The ‘Salute to Veterans’ program features these 3 notable athletes with military service–Rocky Bleier, Greg Gadson and Chad Hennings–who are creating solutions in their communities for their fellow Veterans who may not be as fortunate as they have been since serving.

“Playing Football and Military Service have a natural link, ” shares Chad Hennings, US Air Force Force Graduate and 3-Time Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl Champion, “We can all reflect on commitment to achieving success. You are forever part of something bigger than yourself; it takes sacrifice to be successful.”

Rocky Bleir, a US Army Vietnam Veteran and 4-time Super Bowl Champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is all too familiar with being in a life of constant transition.
“Transition is always a struggle” says Rocky. “Once you are comfortable in a position or in your role, its time to transition (laughing). “

“The challenge is (in transition) the support mechanism can be taken away. How one adjusts and how you get through (inevitable) transition, determines your success.”

Greg Gadson, Retired US Army Colonel, Garrison Commander, and most recently known for his featured role in the movie Battleship (in addition to his two NY Giants Super Bowl rings), also reminds us about the importance of teamwork, and how this Salute to Veterans series is an inspirational program that engages in meaningful dialogue about the most pressing societal issues our nations 25 million veterans, 3.3 million active duty service members and their families face including: employment, unemployment and underemployment; overcoming injuries; continuing education; accessing affordable housing; and filling the need for community leaders.

“Salute to Veterans” is not only a title of the program series, but it is a call to action around the country for much deserved gratitude to be consistently given to our past and present troops, in light of their sacrifices made for freedom, liberty and safety.

#MySaluteToVeterans and the broadcast series aims to transform national military observances days, as not just holidays, but honor-days, when these important issues should be top of mind.

About Salute to Veterans
Salute to Veterans is a national television series and platform raising awareness for and engaging in meaningful discussion about the most pressing societal issues that our 25 million veterans face in communities across America, including: employment, unemployment and underemployment; overcoming injuries; continuing education; accessing affordable housing; and other important issues, while inspiring leadership in their communities.

Please visit: These three veterans are also inspiring others to thank Veterans for their sacrifice everyday through social media at #MySaluteToVeterans and SaluteToVeteranson Facebook. Also, visit http://www.salutetoveterans.org/showfinder.html for your local listings and air times.

Daryl Williams contributed to this story

Transition Services Now Mandatory for Outprocessing Soldiers

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All soldiers who are leaving active duty, whether they are regular Army members who are separating or retiring or reservists demobilizing after six months or more on active duty, now must participate in services to help them transition to civilian life, Army Times reported.

Army Secretary John McHugh mandated the change in a directive issued last year.

Walter M. Herd, director of the Army Career and Alumni Program, told the Army Times he expects about a 300 percent increase in the number of soldiers using his program, which provides career counseling, education, job-preparation and job-search services. Read More