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.

Sergeant Alva was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, when they crossed from Kuwait into Iraq for the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Three hours into the ground war, Alva triggered a landmine. The explosion left him with  broken left leg, a severely broken right arm, and a badly injured right leg that was later amputated. He had become the first American casualty of the war, and was the war’s first Purple Heart recipient.

After 13 years of military service Alva returned to college. While at School, he decided to be true to himself and to help others, coming out as gay. On February 28, 2007, he joined Congressman Martin Meehan in introducing the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, a bill designed to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. With this step, he openly admitted to the military and the world that he is a gay man, and one that had served and proudly sacrificed for his country. Alva took a courageous step toward fighting for the rights of GLBT Americans, especially those who have served and are serving in the U.S. military, but were unable to be true to themselves.

He later testified before the House Armed Service Subcommittee in support of the repeal of DADT and stood alongside President Barack Obama as he signed the legislation to implement the repeal on December 22nd, 2010.

Alva is a national spokesperson the Human Rights Campaign and has been featured on Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper 360 and in Newsweek, USA Today, as well a numerous other media outlets across the country. Among the various awards he has received are the 2004 Hero’s Among Us award from People magazine and the 2008 Public Citizen Award from the National Association of Social Workers.

Having obtained his Master’s degree in social work, Alva is now pursuing a career working with diverse groups and continuing to work for social justice.

Alva’s keynote speech will be at the Convention’s Banquet on Saturday, September 21, 2013, as part of the weekend long celebration of the 3rd Anniversary of the repeal of DADT.

The AVER National Convention will also feature a video address by U.S. Army Brigadier General Tammy Smith, the first General Officer to ‘come out’ following the repeal of DADT.  There will also be chapter leadership training and discussions regarding future plans for AVER. 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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