DoD Transgender Policy Change
On July 13th, 2015 Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced a long awaited policy change that will lead to allowing open Transgender service by early next year. The full details are explained in the actual DoD press release below.
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.
LGBT Veterans & Active Duty in San Diego,
You are invited to meet with fellow LGBT Active Duty, Reserves, Guard and Veterans as guests of American Veterans for Equal Rights for a luncheon at the Bamboo Lounge (& T-deli) honoring your service. A new San Diego Chapter of AVER will be formed and you are encouraged to be a part of this effort to make our veteran services, companionship and advocacy available to those in the San Diego area.