The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

RED HOT: New Guidance for Purple Heart Eligibility

Under new guidance, Veterans and Soldiers previously denied the Purple Heart for such an injury are highly encouraged to submit an application for reconsideration of the medal.

To be eligible, the concussive or m/TBI must have occurred on or after September 11, 2001. Active-duty and reserve-component Soldiers must work with their respective chains of command for reconsideration. Veterans can submit packages directly to U.S. Army Human Resources Command.

To learn more click the link at the end of this story to read an article published by the Army News Service, which discusses the Adjutant General's new guidance on awarding the Purple Heart for concussive or mild traumatic brain injuries and includes application instructions.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

AMVETS partners with Bass Pro Shops during the Bass Pro Shops Honoring Our Heroes Labor Day Event

AMVETS will process donations and distribute to active duty service members

Washington, August 30, 2011— AMVETS will support Bass Pro Shops retail locations** across the U.S. during the Honoring Our Heroes Event during Labor Day weekend September 3rd –4th and again September 10th –11th, by distributing donations received during the event to deployed troops.

Bass Pro Shops retail locations will offer free family activities from 1-5pm each of those days and free crafts from 2-4pm (while supplies last) Labor Day weekend, September 3rd and 4th and again Saturday and Sunday, September 10th and 11th and it’s all free!

Show your appreciation for our troops, most of whom won’t be able to get home for the holiday, by bringing in new or gently used DVDs, video games or books. All donated items will be sent to our troops through AMVETS. The first 50 people at each store to donate, beginning at 10am each day, will receive a Sportsman’s Racing Team poster.

Families can also register to win one of two exciting prizes being given away. One winner will be selected nationally to win the Grand Prize of a trip to Charlotte, NC and meet NASCAR® driver of the #1 Bass Pro Shops car Jamie McMurray. The Grand Prize Package includes two tickets to the May 2012 Sprint Cup All-Star race in Charlotte, three-night hotel accommodations, special meet-n-greet with Jamie McMurray, a Bass Pro Shops® themed go-cart, one pair of Oakley® sunglasses, a tour of Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and a $300 Bass Pro Shops gift card to spend at the Charlotte store. You may enter to win at the store or online at

This Labor Day, help show your appreciation for all the everyday heroes plus our troops and squeeze the last drop out of summer fun without putting any pressure on your budget, by bringing the family to Bass Pro Shops Honoring Our Heroes Event.

**Bass Pro Shops retail locations in Miami, FL and Branson, MO will not have the event but will honor sale prices. Event details for Canadian locations can be found here.

About Bass Pro Shops Group:
Bass Pro Shops -56 retail stores in 26 states and Canada visited by over 110 million people annually, international catalog and internet retailing, American Rod & Gun wholesale division selling to over 7,000 independently owned retail stores worldwide, Outdoor World Incentives also selling Bass Pro Shops gift cards through over 132,000 retail outlets across America and a restaurant division with 26 locations. For more information regarding Bass Pro Shops store locations, products or special events, please visit To request a free catalog call 1-800-BASS PRO.

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Friday, August 19, 2011



TACOMA, WA., August 18, 2011— Friday, Aug. 19 at 4:30 PM, Commander Kelley Buyers of AMVETS Post 1 in Tacoma will present a check at the post for $750 to two young veterans to help replace a bicycle and trailer destroyed Aug. 11 in a collision with a pickup truck in Oregon.

Erick Barfield, a Coast Guard veteran and 9/11 first responder, and his wife Monica, an Army veteran, left Tampa, Fla., in February on a year-long trek to raise awareness for homeless and disabled veterans. The couple has also promoted AMVETS, a leading veterans organization they say has helped them in the past.

After leaving Florida in February, the Barfields traveled north and westward, eventually reaching Indiana where they adopted their road companion, a Jack Russell Terrier named Lily. They had another eventful stop in Cheyenne, Wy., where the couple were joined by AMVETS volunteers from Wyoming Post 10 in assisting local homeless veterans. Continuing on to Southern California, they received support from California Post 113, then headed north where they ran into trouble in Oregon Aug. 11.

While fortunate not to have been seriously injured in the traffic accident that destroyed his bicycle and trailer, Erick was discouraged by the set back and feared the couple’s year-long mission of service would come to a premature end. The generosity of Washington AMVETS Post 1 changed all that.

“I was totally shocked; I couldn’t believe it,” said Barfield. “I wasn’t expecting anything, and for them to do this – well, they didn’t have to.”

The donation from Post 1 enabled Barfield to purchase a modified Trek 1000 touring bicycle and a replacement trailer, and during the unscheduled stop other generous donations have poured in including a stay at the Governor Hotel in Olympia, and cycling equipment donated by a local REI store. The Barfields plan to re-donate these items to local Washington veterans in need.

Dave Harris, past commander of the AMVETS Department of Washington and Post 1, said the donation came from post funds as well as individual contributions from members.

“We were glad to do it,” said Harris. “They’re really nice people. I think it’s cool they’re getting out and doing something to help other veterans, see the country and help people along the way. They’re sincere and dedicated.”

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Brigadier General David Smalley, Deputy Commanding General for Professional Services, U.S. Army 807th Medical Command, Addresses AMVETS Convention

Brig. Gen. David Smalley spoke Aug. 11 at the AMVETS National Convention in St. Louis, Mo. Smalley is the Deputy Commanding General for Professional Services, U.S. Army 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support).

Smalley shared information about a few of the United States Army Reserve’s Family Support Programs and Communities, designed to meet the changing needs of a new generation of veterans. Veterans are an invaluable part of the Army Reserve and of our nation’s workforce, and it is essential that we continue to make strides in bettering their transition between active duty and retired status.

Army Reserve Family Programs provide a range of education and training benefits, outreach and referral services, as well as informational resources to support our geographically dispersed Soldiers, veterans and families. He spoke about the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, the Army Strong Bonds Program and the Army Strong Community Center (ASCC). In addition, he discussed how the Army Reserve is working with the private sector as part of the Employer Partnership Program.

If you’ve participated in any of these programs, please visit and let the Army Reserve know about your experience. Please feel free to submit a comment, tell your story and spread the word. By working together, we can and will ensure that the Army Reserve continues to be a positive investment for our Soldiers, our nation and especially our veterans.

As one of the nation’s largest veteran service organizations, AMVETS members include more than 180,000 active duty service men and women and honorably discharged veterans from all of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard. The annual convention, which attracts state and national leaders and key influencers from across the country, offers an ideal backdrop for learning and engagement around ways to improve the quality of life for Soldiers, veterans and their families.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

AMVETS 67th Annual Convention Begins

Today marked the opening ceremony of the 67th Annual AMVETS National Convention in St. Louis, Mo.

Members from all over the country began arriving at the Millennium Hotel as early as Thursday to participate in various pre-convention activities, see the St. Louis sites and to catch up with other AMVETS members whom they hadn't seen in a year. Hands were shaken and toasts were made at the Dugout, a hotel hospitality suite that served as the Sad Sacks Hospitality Room from Thursday to Monday, and then the Dept. of Missouri's hospitality room Tues. and Weds. Members from posts and departments enjoyed refreshments and good conversation into the wee hours of the morning.

Many members looked forward to the opening ceremony to hear remarks from honored speakers, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO), and Congressman Lacey Clay (MO), who made it a priority to address the AMVETS audience.

Shinseki, McCaskill and Clay thanked AMVETS for their service and advocacy. Shinseki outlined the Obama administration's goals for improving the quality of life for the nation's veterans focusing on the increased budget for 2012. He also mentioned the various initiatives that are planned for transitioning veterans and eradicating homelessness.

During a press conference following the ceremony, Shinseki emphasized the importance of responsible leadership when providing quality care to veterans at VA healthcare facilities and said he was satisfied at the direction VA healthcare administrators were going. He said change is never fast enough, but progress is being made and it is one of the highest priorites of President Obama.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

AMVETS Serves St. Louis Veterans, Reaffirms Commitment to Homeless Veterans Cause

Sunday, in advance of the 67th Annual AMVETS National Convention in St. Louis, Mo., AMVETS volunteers joined the St. Louis VA Medical Center and the St. Louis City and County in Eternal Flame Park to deliver critical services to more than 450 homeless American veterans. AMVETS was honored to welcome participation from the Vet Hunters Project riders, whose remarkable, 1,900-mile trek from Los Angeles has served to raise public awareness for veteran homelessness. Regrettably, The Vet Hunters Project did not accept AMVETS’ offer to provide five minutes for brief remarks from a Vet Hunters representative during Wednesday’s opening ceremony, and instead insisted that they be afforded time to present a documentary film and to directly address VA Secretary Eric Shinseki during the ceremony. AMVETS does not exercise control over the Secretary’s schedule and other groups and dignitaries could not be accommodated during the opening ceremony. As evidenced by AMVETS’ participation in Sunday’s stand down for homeless veterans, this organization does actively support the cause to end homelessness in the veterans’ community, and recognizes the importance of the Vet Hunters’ mission. It is truly unfortunate that the Vet Hunters Project has chosen to publicly attack a major leading veterans service organization with an aligned mission, rather than expending their limited resources on their stated cause: serving homeless veterans.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

AMVETS Riders Sponsor New Cabin at Camp Hope

Nearly two hundred AMVETS Riders rode motorcycles from the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis, the site of the 67th Annual National Convention, to Camp Hope in Farmington, Mo., as AMVETS leaders, local politicians, veterans and their supporters gather to dedicate a newly constructed cabin in honor of Air Force Master Sgt. Brad Clemmons. Clemmons, who earned the Bronze Star Medal in the Global War on Terrorism, was killed in August of 2006 when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device near Taji, Iraq.

The AMVETS Riders successfully raised more than $30,000 for Camp Hope since officially designating Camp Hope a national cause for the organization one year ago at the 66th Annual AMVETS National Convention in Louisville, Ky. The AMVETS Riders’ contribution wholly funded a new cabin to be used by wounded warriors and their families while visiting Camp Hope, with remaining funds going to support a new main lodge, for which a ground breaking ceremony was also held Saturday.

After the ceremony, several AMVETS posts and chapters delivered monetary donations for Camp Hope, all of which totaled more than $12,000.
Founded in 2007 by Gold Star Parents Mike and Galia White, Camp Hope provides a variety of outdoor recreational activities to wounded warriors and their families free of charge.
Among the dignitaries in attendance for the ceremony Saturday was AMVETS National Commander Jerry Hotop of Branson, Mo., AMVETS Riders National President Victor “Dutch” Stivason, and Master Sgt. Brad Clemmons’ surviving family, including his wife, Rebecca, and the couple’s four children.
Stivason called the Riders’ yearlong campaign to support Camp Hope an outstanding success and a fitting tribute to a true American hero.
“I am proud of the hard work and dedication of our AMVETS Riders from all over the country this past year,” said Stivason. “Our mission will ensure our veterans and their families continue to enjoy the truly remarkable healing that happens here at Camp Hope for years to come. Having the Clemmons family with us is also a tremendous privilege. We are honored to pay tribute to the life and service of Master Sgt. Brad Clemmons.”    
Following the Camp Hope cabin dedication, the Riders held a fundraising dance at Shady Jack’s restaurant and bar in St. Louis.

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My first look at St Louis

Landing in St. Louis last Thursday, I didn't know what to expect for my first convention. I have never before been to the "Show Me" state either, so this would be a new experience for me all around. I knew the city would be hot, and that there's a huge Arch, but other than that, I was pretty clueless.

On the flight over, I had the pleasure of meeting a soldier who just graduated from boot camp. His MOS is supply clerk. During our conversation, I learned that he wanted to get all of his training out the way so that he could join the fight in Afghanistan and follow in his brother's footsteps. It was fun trading boot stories and how we changed froom civilians into troops.

Once we landed, the young private and I said our goodbyes, and Commander Hotop and his wife Judy greeted me at the airport. The Hotops showed me that wonderful Midwest Hospitality and after making sure I was settled, treated me to a dinner of traditional St. Louis barbecue. I stuffed my face with tender beef brisket and fried okra, washing it down with a delicious root beer float made with Fitz's soda, which is a local company.

My overall first impression of St. Louis is that it is a friendly, welcoming city with a love of country and our troops. I look forward to the rest of my stay here, and will most assuredly visit in the future.

Now.... If I can only make time to visit the top of the Arch...

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