Category Archives: Press Releases

Official press releases from the AVER National Public Affairs Office.

AVER endorses the Restore Honor to Service Members Act

For Immediate Release       
January 31, 2014

Contact: AVER Public Affairs
Denny Meyer 718 849-5665
publicaffairs@aver.us

 AVER endorses the Restore Honor to Service Members Act
“Act will streamline the discharge upgrade process”

Albuquerque, NM – American Veterans for Equal Rights supports and endorses the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, introduced in the Senate on January 30th by Senators Shatz (D HI) and Gillibrand (D NY), following the bill’s introduction in the House of Representatives last Summer by Representatives Rangel (D NY) and Pocan (D WI).  The act will streamline the discharge upgrade process for those service members discharged “due to homosexuality” since World War II, both before and during the DADT era.

AVER was consulted during the initial development of the bill.  As noted in the Senators’ press release below, AVER has long advocated that, “LGBT veterans who served and sacrificed in silence during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as those who served before and during ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ in the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan, deserve to see their service recognized and honored at long last.”

AVER President Steve Loomis (LTC Ret.) stated, “It is extremely important that this act be passed to provide correction of less than honorable discharges given during and before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy.  Now is time to heal the damages that an ill conceived DADT policy did to many of our patriot GLBT veterans.  It is the logical completion of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Streamlined procedures for changing the characterization, narrative and reenlistment codes for discharges for homosexuality will be announced following the passage for this bill.  Corrections are necessary to avoid inaccurate assumptions by potential employers or veterans benefits agencies when dealing with GLBT veterans.

Senator Schatz’ Press Release, including AVER’s commentary and a summary of the bill, may be seen at:http://www.schatz.senate.gov/press-releases/schatz-gillibrand-seek-justice-for-service-members-discharged-due-to-sexual-orientation

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Social Security Administration Begins Processing Same-Sex Claims

AMERICAN VETERANS FOR EQUAL RIGHTS
For Immediate Release
AUGUST 9, 2013
Re: Social Security Administration Begins Processing Same-Sex Claims

Contact:
Denny Meyer, AVER Public Affairs, 718 849-5665
Danny Ingram, AVER President, president@aver.us

Atlanta, GA,
Aug 9, 2013 – Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced in a nation-wide telephone conference call today that the Social Security Administration is “beginning to process claims today” for same-sex couples.

American Veterans for Equal Rights joined SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), the ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security, and dozens of other national organizations in a conference call that raised more questions than provided answers. Acting Commissioner Colvin frequently reiterated that “the Department of Justice is coordinating the implementation of new policies for all federal agencies,” and that any policies established by SSA must be “cleared by Justice.” But she also affirmed boldly that the SSA is “open for business and accepting claims for benefits” from same-sex couples. The Commissioner recommended repeatedly that “anyone who feels that they are due benefits should apply now,” and that there would be” no penalty for claims that may be denied. No one is to be turned away,” she said.

Many questions were asked about how domestic partnerships and civil unions will differ from marriage, specifically since SSA is using the term “same-sex couples” without the use of the word “married,” but there are as yet no answersto these questions or many, many others involving this very complex issue.  Additionally, questions concerning the federal benefits of same-sex couples legally married in one state but residing in another where their marriage is not recognized, remain largely unanswered. Commissioner Colvin strongly and frequently encouraged interested individuals to visit the SSA homepage located at www.socialsecurity.gov for unfolding policies and answers to questions. A statement by the Commissioner and a special section entitled “Need Information about the Defense of Marriage Act” already appear on the SSA page.

AVER was invited along with other national organizations to partner with the SSA in helping to disseminate information on this critical issue. The changes to SSA and many other federal agencies on the issue of same-sex couples result from the Supreme Court’s June ruling in the “Windsor Decision,” which overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

AVER is the nation’s LGBT Veterans’ Service Organization, serving militarypersonnel and veterans since 1990.

www.aver.us

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Upgrade Discharges for Gay Vets

Atlanta, GA (Jul 25, 2013) – U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY) today introduced legislation, along with 102 bipartisan cosponsors, to ensure that Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual veterans who were discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation receive the honor and recognition they deserve. The “Restore Honor to Service Members Act” would instill the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” into law and support the Department of Defense’s efforts to correct the unfairly tarnished military records of our brave service members. Since World War II to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in 2011, approximately 114,000 service members were discharged because of their sexual orientation. Congressman Pocan is one of 6 openly gay members of the House. Congressman Rangel is a US Army veteran of the Korean War.

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Former Marine Staff SGT Eric Alva Named Speaker For AVER National Convention

FORMER MARINE STAFF SGT ERIC ALVA NAMED SPEAKER FOR AVER NATIONAL CONVENTION

Sgt. Alva

The Rocky Mountain Chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights has announced that former Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Alva will be the keynote speaker for the 2013 AVER National Convention being held September 20-22, 2013 at the Denver Renaissance Hotel. Attending the event from across the country, will be active duty service members and veterans going back as far as WWII.

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American Veterans for Equal Rights Applauds Supreme Court Decision

Atlanta, GA (JUN 26, 2013) – In yet another historic victory in the struggle for LGBT civil rights, the Supreme Court today overturned the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law barring federal recognition and benefits to legally married same-sex American couples. This milestone by the nation’s highest judicial body demonstrates the continuing evolution of the understanding of equality and justice in a nation which holds those ideals as core principles of our democratic society. The Supreme Court has affirmed there simply is no justification to deny benefits to one legally married couple that are readily available to other legally married couples. Prejudiced policies that deny equal treatment under the law to LGBT citizens of the United States accomplish nothing more than punishing minority Americans for being different from the majority. There is no rationale in a just society for such a denial of basic rights.

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Happy 90th, Jack Strouss

Today is Jack Strouss’s 90th birthday. Jack’s granddaddy fought in the Civil War, and not many people can say that. Jack’s great uncle Clement was General Clement A. Evans, whose portrait hangs in the Georgia State Capitol. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Jack W. Strouss is a quintessential Southern gentleman who can “charm the spots off a leopard”, according to some of his friends. Born June 24, 1923, Jack attended public schools in Atlanta and graduated from Technological High School in 1942.

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