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

Friday, September 30, 2011

New Telephone Service: Coaching into Care

When a Veteran comes home, or their military service comes to an end, their support shifts from military comrades and superiors to family members and close friends. Frequently it is friends and family who are first to notice their Veteran having a tough time adjusting. If you haven’t served in the military yourself, it can be hard to know how to help–what to say, how to reach out.

VA has several programs that help family members provide support to their Veterans, like Caregiver Support, counseling at your local Vet Center, and an initiative that got started earlier this year: Coaching into Care.

Coaching into Care is a telephone service that provides assistance to family members and friends trying to encourage their Veteran to seek health care for possible readjustment and mental health issues. It’s a national phone service that places priority to linking Veterans with benefits and services available in their own communities.

Secretary Shinseki pointed out that

“Family members and friends may not know what to say to encourage their Veterans to seek much needed readjustment and health care. The Coaching into Care line will help them find the right words.”

If you think your Veteran friend or family member is having a difficult time and could benefit from readjustment counseling or mental health care, please utilize the Coaching into Care service: call 1-888-823-7458 or email .

Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 23, 2011

AMVETS Posts 9/11 Tributes

Thank you to Posts 178 and 5293 for sharing their 9/11 Remembrance Services.
Post 5293 in Ironton, Ohio was featured on the front page of the Ironton Tribune.

Kudos to you!

Post 178 in Defuniak Springs, Fla. 9/11 service program

Defuniak Springs ROTC Color Guard

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Send in those LETTERS

Thank you for supporting the American Veteran Magazine blog.

We here at AMVETS National Headquarters are calling on all AMVETS members and subscribers to American Veteran Magazine to submit letters to the editor.

We want to know what you want to hear more about.
What stories do you want to read?

What are you up to in your posts and departments?

This magazine is for veterans and we would like our members to have a stronger voice to influence the information we present.

We welcome all letters, photos, and stories. Send stories and HI-RES photos to!

Bookmark and Share

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hiring Veterans is the Right Thing to Do

by Edward F. Clemons, SPHR
Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources & Ethics Officer
The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company
AMVETS Life Member

Since 9/11 we have been a country at war in places far from home. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a time in the future when this will not be so. A whole generation of young Americans like you have gone off to war on behalf of America, and the question remains as to what this country will do when you come home.

The average modern veteran of military service is likely to be better educated than veterans of other eras. He or she is also likely to have worked with technologies and advanced systems under extremely stressful conditions. This average veteran also knows the value of teamwork and leadership.

Unfortunately, this veteran also has a good chance of being unemployed.

According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was 10.9% in April, 2011. That’s a full 2% higher than the overall unemployment rate throughout the United States.

One might argue that these returning veterans are coming back to a country just out of recession and still not creating enough jobs – particularly not enough jobs for young men. Our veterans should not have to return from fighting a war on foreign soil, only to come home and fight another war for a job.

Male non-veterans in the 18-24 age group have an unemployment rate of around 17%. For male veterans in the same age group, the number is 27%.

Have employers lost the sense of obligation to veterans that they had in other eras?

There is no evidence that we have lost our emotional interest in them. We put the bumper stickers on our cars and we welcome them home in parades and town halls all across the country.

In fact, there are structural changes in the economy that make it more difficult for the modern returning veteran. A report to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee said “Prior to the start of the recession, post 9/11 veterans were more likely than non-veterans to be employed in mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation and utilities, information, and professional and business services – all industries that experienced significant drops in employment during 2008-2009.”

Not only did employment in many of these categories drop, there is little doubt that many of these professions will not instantly rebound with the next positive economic news.

It should be that we look at returning veterans not as a set of unwanted skill sets but as character assets. In the insurance industry, character counts as much as hard work, intelligence and contacts. Our business is based on duty, loyalty and nobility of purpose. These are hardly foreign concepts to the returning veteran.

What employers need to do is match those character assets to training programs in their industry that will educate and enable a new generation of professionals.

At Penn Mutual we just made a $2.5 million commitment to The American College to build the nation’s first Center for Veterans Affairs. The American College specializes in training and education for the insurance industry, and returning veterans could very well be part of the new generation that is urgently needed to replace a rapidly graying group of practitioners.

The Center for Veterans Affairs will work with a special panel of active duty and retired military leaders and insurance industry recruiters to create a ‘Mission Roadmap’ for soldiers who are interested in becoming life insurance professionals and financial advisers. It is anticipated that the first soldiers graduating from The College with these designations will be within the next two years.

While we are justifiably proud of our participation in this program, it’s important to remind colleagues that we don’t have any exclusive rights to support for this kind of training. Any company can, and should, participate.

When a veteran comes off a tour of active duty military service, the last thing he or she wants is the opportunity to rest on some well-deserved laurels. What veterans want is challenge, opportunity, a way to provide a future for their families, and the chance to once again serve others honorably as a civilian.

Matching those character assets to an industry always looking for new talent is the right thing to do.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 9, 2011

AMVETS National Commander Gary Fry's 9/11 Commemorative Speech

Ten years have passed since the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Today, millions will gather to remember and honor those whose lives were lost that fateful day. Ceremonies at the Pentagon, near the site of the World Trade Center in New York, in Pennsylvania, and at hundreds of other places around the world are being held at this very moment. Just as we were united in the hours and days following the September 11 attacks, we are again drawn together in solidarity to remember those who were lost. And today we also honor the men and women, in and out of uniform, who continue to fight against those who would harm us for no other reason than our great country, the United States of America, remains a beacon of freedom in an increasingly dark and chaotic world.
With their blows to the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, Al Qaeda sought to overturn the world’s most powerful symbols of military strength and economic prosperity. They impacted our sense of safety, making it hard to trust the man or woman standing next to us. Some of us are still suspicious of strangers and many of us are still looking over our shoulders. Rebuilding trust certainly takes time. But they did not accomplish their goals. They did not cripple the far reaching capabilities or the effectiveness of our military and our collective resilience as a nation. Look around you. Take note of your brothers and sisters. This is your American family. We stand together against those who would attack our freedoms and our way of life. But they can’t keep us down.
Not long after the attack, family members who lost loved ones during the terrorist strike at the Pentagon created a makeshift memorial outside the damaged building. There were memorials at the site of the World Trade Center and the field in Pennsylvania. We are resilient, persistent and determined; all of which I would dare to say are inherent American attributes. These people did not wait for an official call to action. They made it happen. Fast-forward ten years. Where are we now? We continue to grieve, but we also continue to fight the war on terrorism. They wanted to make us weak, but they only made us stronger.
United in strength and camaraderie, we grieve for the 3,000 innocent people who perished in those dastardly attacks against our nation. They came from all walks of life, all races, and all ages. And while most of those who perished were U.S. citizens, we must not forget that the victims at the World Trade Center included citizens of dozens of other nations. Terrorism threatens the entire global community, not just the United States.
Again, I propose that the terrorists failed in weakening our great nation. In fact, the attacks produced new American heroes, such as the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93. The plane was hijacked the same way the passenger airliners flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were, however, the passengers were united under the resolve that their airliner would not be used as another guided missile – and it wasn’t.
Additionally, America has newfound heroes in the hundreds of New York City policemen, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency responders who gave their all when the World Trade Center towers collapsed around them as they fought to get everyone out.
A little more than a week after the attacks, President George W. Bush told us that "We are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done."
And justice has been done. Working closely with the armed forces of other nations, our military campaigns have eliminated al Qaeda’s safe haven in Afghanistan and the Taliban government that supported them. Osama Bin Laden has been brought to justice, and our military service members continue to deliver justice every single day as they hunt down remaining fugitives throughout Afghanistan, even as they help the liberated Afghan people embrace freedom and democracy.
We have met many milestones during these past ten years and during the war against terror. We have a way to go, but as we speak, the numbers of American troops are drawing down. Eventually this war will end. Life will never be what it was before the attacks, but what has not eliminated us only educated us and made us stronger.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are fighting the Global War on Terrorism, in an effort to create and maintain the conditions for peace. Every day they sacrifice to protect and defend our homeland, and our freedoms.
We will never forget September 11th, 2001 as one of America’s darkest days. But a renewed sense of national pride has arisen out of the gloom. A national resolve to make this world a safer place now shines brightly. Our unwavering strength and resolve is a wonder for the world to behold. We stand united. America will remember her heroes who emerged from the tragedies of those attacks, and we will fight the good fight against a global network of terrorism for as long as it takes to end its threat to our way of life.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 1, 2011


LANHAM, MD., Sept. 1, 2011— Newly-elected AMVETS National Commander Gary Fry announced today the passage of AMVETS Resolution 12-26, “Establish Veterans Treatment Courts,” at the 67th annual AMVETS National Convention in St. Louis, Mo.

Resolution 12-26 outlines the significant benefits of Veteran Treatment Courts to the veterans’ community, and calls upon existing Drug Courts and Mental Health Courts to assess veteran involvement within their programs and better assist this underserved population.

Fry, of Sugar Grove, Pa., said veterans suffering from substance abuse and/or mental health conditions in his home state and elsewhere have benefitted from Veterans Treatment Courts by receiving life-changing drug treatment and mental health counseling in lieu of incarceration.

“We have an obligation to ensure the men and women who have served their nation honorably have access to the benefits and treatment to which they are entitled,” said Fry. “To allow them to slip through the cracks of our criminal justice system is a national disgrace and an affront to all who have worn and continue to wear the uniform.”

With one in five veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom suffering symptoms of a mental disorder or cognitive impairment, and one in six veterans of OEF/OIF suffering substance abuse problems, unprecedented numbers of veterans are appearing in criminal courts facing charges stemming directly from these charges. Veterans Treatment Courts connect these veterans with benefits and services to which they are entitled from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care networks and the Veterans Benefits Administration, and assistance provided by veterans service organizations including AMVETS.

The nation’s first Veterans Treatment Court was established in early 2008 in Buffalo, New York. Since then, nearly 80 programs have been launched throughout the United States. With over 2,600 Drug Courts in operation, Justice For Vets sees the potential for a significant increase in the number of Veterans Treatment Courts in the coming years.

“The infrastructure is in place to expand this model throughout the United States to serve every eligible veteran in need. As we do so, it is critical that we have the support of our most respected veteran’s organizations,” said Justice For Vets Director of Development and Outreach Matt Stiner. “AMVETS has an unmatched reputation for serving veterans, and AMVETS’ involvement in local Veterans Treatment Courts is proving to be an invaluable tool for getting veterans stabilized and connected to the appropriate treatment and benefits. We are deeply honored to have this support.”

Fry said the expanded use of Veterans Treatment Courts nationwide is a key component of his agenda for his term as AMVETS national commander for the 2011-2012 year, and to this end, he will seek to forge strategic relationships between AMVETS and veterans legal advocacy groups, including Justice for Vets and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.


About NADCP and Justice For Vets:
Drug Courts combine rigorous drug treatment and accountability to compel and support drug-using offenders to change their lives. After 22 years of innovation, there are now over 2,600 Drug Courts located in all 50 states. Since 1994 the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), a non-profit organization 501 (c) (3) representing over 27,000 multi-disciplinary justice professionals and community leaders, has worked tirelessly at the national, state and local level to create and enhance Drug Courts. Now, the Drug Court community is answering the call of duty at home to meet the needs of justice-involved veterans struggling with substance abuse and/or mental illness. In the country’s first Veterans Treatment Courts, veterans have the opportunity to go through the treatment court process with the support of other veterans and a team of court staff that understands military culture and the specific issues with which veterans are faced. NADCP is now recognized as the experts in the field of addiction and the criminal justice system. In 2009, NADCP launched Justice For Vets: The National Clearinghouse for Veterans Treatment Courts with the goal of ensuring a Veterans Treatment Court is within reach of every eligible veteran in need. For more information, visit JusticeForVets.

Bookmark and Share