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.