I want to personally invite you along with all other American Veterans for Equal Rights members to join me at this spring’s
AVER 25th Anniversary National Convention
in Albuquerque/Santa Fe from 21 April to 24 April 2016!
Now that the holidays are behind us, I encourage each of you to register for our AVER convention. We are going to have a great convention as we work into AVER’s future and protect the fights we have won. Maj Gen Patricia Rose, the highest ranking out service member, is our great keynote speaker and Colonel Margerethe Cammermeyer will be presented the Matlovich Award for her service and advocacy on behalf of LGBT veterans and service members.
Chapter Presidents and Coordinators,
AVER is running a national advertising campaign in USA Today, next weekend. USA Today sends a special Veterans Day insert in its paper to military bases, hotels, restaurants and newsstands across the country. The advertisement was sent to you previously and is attached today.
American Veterans for Equal Rights_41158568
AVER Honors American Heroes on Memorial Day in Washington DC
by Danny Ingram
Near a quiet intersection in Washington’s Congressional Cemetery, in a plot of land commonly known as the “gay corner,” the gravesite of Leonard Matlovich rests beneath a small tree providing shade to the black granite memorial to one of America’s most prominent LGBT activists. Memorial Day, 2015, marks the 40th anniversary that United States Air Force Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich came out in the national press to challenge the military’s policy of discrimination against LGBT service members. A Vietnam veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, Leonard Matlovich did more to open the door to LGBT service than perhaps any other individual. Continue reading
Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery Monument to LGBT Veterans Dedication Date – May 25, 2015 Memorial Day by James Darby
On Monday, May 25, 2015 the Chicago chapter of AVER dedicated a monument to lgbt veterans at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, the largest cemetery in the U.S. in the VA cemetery system. This is the first monument in a National VA cemetery dedicated solely to lgbt veterans by lgbt veterans. It rained heavily in the morning but by noon it cleared up and turned out to be an absolutely beautiful day. More than 100 guests, friends and visitors started streaming into the Valley of Monuments area guided by 35 flag carrying members of Organized Chaos, a Chicago based Women’s Motorcycle Club. A half dozen TV stations had already set up their equipment before everyone got there. ALNC is located 50 miles southwest of Chicago, so AVER Chicago chartered a free bus. Once the bus arrived President Reinhart started the ceremony. Eight members of AV ER posted the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance was done by everyone and the National Anthem was sung by the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. The Invocation was given by three members of the clergy – Father Chris Meyers, a Catholic Priest, Reverend Wayne Bradley, a Protestant Minister and Cindy Enger, a Jewish Rabbi. All three spoke so eloquently that we could see tears flowing from many of those present. It was an extremely emotional experience for everyone. Continue reading
AVER Chicago Dedicates Monument to LGBT Veterans at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery by Michael Bedwell
On Memorial Day, May 25th, 2015, a long-held dream in our community was realized by AVER Chicago. After four years of intense effort led by Board Member Stanley Jenczyk, the first federally approved memorial exclusively for LGBT veterans was dedicated in Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery south of Chicago. In addition to Jenczyk, those attending included current Chapter President Lee Reinhart, founder and former President Jim Darby and his husband, Board Member Patrick Bova, Treasurer Larry Simpson, and Executive Director Victor Salvo and Board Member Lori Cannon of the Legacy Project. The “National Anthem” and “America the Beautiful” were performed by the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. Speakers included U.S. Representatives Robin Kelly and Bill Foster, as well as representatives of other elected officials, and inspirational remarks were delivered by Rev. Wayne Bradley, Rabbi Cindy Enger, and Father Chris Meyer. Members of Organized Chaos, a Chicago-area women’s motorcycle club, led by Army Major Melinda Rayter, lined either side of the pathway leading to the ceremony with American flags, and, then, formed a circle of flags around the ceremony itself. Color Guard members included Jean Albright, Ed Wosylus, and Travis. The historic event closed with Melissa Terrell and Susan Jones playing “Taps.”
Veterans Crisis Line Helping ALL who served
By Denny Meyer
Veterans Affairs Officer American Veterans for Equal Rights and Transgender American Veterans Association
Earlier this year I received a routine promotional e mail from the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL), reminding me as a veterans’ advocate that VCL is the VA’s front line of defense against veterans’ suicide, PTSD based personal crises, and other emergencies that constantly confront our nations’ 30 million+ veterans. Knowing that well over one million of those living vets who served from WWII to the present, including me, are LGBT, I wondered how well prepared the Veterans Crisis Line is in serving us.