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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vets 4 Warriors

 Vets 4 Warriors is a toll-free support line for National Guard and Reserve service members and veterans. In a war that has redefined the role of the National Guard and Reserve units, additional resources are needed to assist these individuals with the stress of deploying and engaging in new arenas on the battlefield. Available 24 hours a day, Vets 4 Warriors has a staff fully comprised of veterans. These peer counselors understand military issues and can relate to a caller in a way that a civilian counselor cannot. Speaking from experience, the counselors can easily communicate to service members. They provide financial counseling, legal advice, medical services, and more while also helping connect the service member to resources in their community. Resources are often community based since service members often do not want to seek help on board a military installation. Also, National Guard service members and reservists may not live close to a base and require resources and programs closer to home. Counselors will follow up with callers if requested to do so, allowing service members to report progress and ask more questions.

Another great aspect of Vets 4 Warriors program is their confidentiality policy. Callers can choose to remain anonymous, but if they provide their name and other details the peer counselor will not report any components of the conversation to the military, the VA, or other individuals. This allows the stigma of asking for help to disappear, enabling more service members to utilize this resource.

To access the peer support line, call 1-855-VET-TALK (1-855-838-8255), or visit

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Monday, May 21, 2012

This Week At American Veteran

This week at American Veteran, we will discuss a great resource for all veterans, the 24-hour peer support line, Vets4Warriors. Veterans staff the telephone lines and all information shared with the organization will remain confidential and will not be shared with the military or the VA. Later in the week, we will post a blog article with more details about this unique tool that is available to all veterans and active duty service members.

On Monday, Commander Gary L. Fry returned from attending the 2012 Arizona State Convention. This week, he and other members of the AMVETS’ leadership will be preparing for Memorial Day events in Washington, DC.  If you have not read Commander Fry's Memorial Day Speech, please visit:

On Memorial Day, Commander Fry will be attending a wreath-laying ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial commemorating the Vietnam War’s 50th anniversary. National First Vice Commander Cleve Geer will attend the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Throughout Memorial Day weekend, Rolling Thunder events will be held throughout DC. Rolling Thunder participates in an annual motorcycle rally to recognize and increase awareness of POW/MIA personnel. Also, AMVETS will have an exhibit by the Washington Monument so if you are in the area, please stop by and say hello! Pictures of Memorial Day events will be featured on Facebook, American Veteran online, and in the summer edition of American Veteran. Please feel free to send us any pictures of local Memorial Day events that your post takes part in.

As always, we’re eager to hear what you think. Please feel free to share your veterans’ news and comments with American Veteran.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Calling All Unemployed Veterans

By Diane Zumatto, AMVETS National Legislative Director

Last fall, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 in order to help veterans find jobs.  The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 is now being implemented, and with that, unemployed veterans ages 35-60 can apply for retraining under the Montgomery GI Bill for in-demand jobs.

Included in this new law is the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP). VRAP offers up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed Veterans. The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and the Department of Labor (DOL) are working together to roll out this new program on July 1, 2012.
The VRAP offers 12 months of training assistance to veterans who:

  • Are at least 35 but no more than 60 years old;

  • Are unemployed (The Department of Labor defines "unemployed" as "People who are jobless, looking for jobs, and available for work."  All three criteria must be met to be considered unemployed);

  • Received an other than dishonorable discharge;

  • Are not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g.: the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance);

  • Are not in receipt of VA compensation due to unemployability; and

  • Are not enrolled in a federal or state job training program

The program is limited to 45,000 participants from July 1, 2012, through September 30, 2012, and 54,000 participants from October 1, 2012, through March 31, 2014. 

Participants may receive up to 12 months of assistance equal to the monthly full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program (currently $1,473 per month). DOL will offer employment assistance to every Veteran who participates upon completion of the program.

Participants must be enrolled in a VA approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an Associate Degree, non-college degree, or a certificate, and train the veteran for a high demand occupation.  To learn more about the program, eligibility, and important dates, please click here.  Be sure to spread the word to other veterans! 

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This Week on Capitol Hill


By Diane Zumatto, AMVETS National Legislative Director

LANHAM, Md., May 15, 2012 This week the House Armed Services Committee formally rejected the President’s proposed TRICARE fee increases. The President’s budget request included: increasing pharmacy co-pays, an annual enrollment fee for TRICARE For Life for military retirees, income-based enrollment fees for TRICARE Prime, and adding an annual enrollment fee and higher deductibles for TRICARE Standard and Extra.

While the House version of the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act would increase some TRICARE pharmacy co-pays, it does not include the DoD’s plan to stop enrollment fees for TRICARE Prime. While this is good news, it’s not a done deal yet. The HASC budget proposal still has to be presented to the full house for a vote.

Unfortunately, even if the HASC proposal passes unanimously in the House, it is highly unlikely to pass through the Senate without argument and revision.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

15th Annual Women in the Military Wreath Laying Ceremony

Yesterday, May 10, 2012, AMVETS attended the 15th Annual Women in the Military Wreath Laying Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues. Focused on the achievements and dedication of all women, the ceremony honored one woman from each branch of the military, who serves as a testament to the strength and passion in each past and present servicewoman. “The women we honor here today are true patriots,” said Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla. “They follow a long line of women who’ve answered the call of service for this nation.” Attending the ceremony as a keynote speaker and as President of the Women’s Memorial Foundation, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught welcomed all attendees to the ceremony. As a role model for all women, Vaught served 28 years in the military and also was one of the few servicewomen during the Vietnam War to serve in a position other than a nurse. As one of the most decorated women in the United States military, Vaught spoke of the unique tradition that servicewomen have created. “Women in the military is not just a thing of yesterday or just a thing of today,” said Vaught. “It is a thing for the future.”
Also present at the ceremony were Reps. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., Jamie Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, and Jean Schmidt, R-OH. Each spoke about and honored an individual woman currently serving in the military, showing that our servicewomen continue to break barriers and exemplify the highest in military excellence and professionalism. The women honored at the event were: Army Command Sgt. Major Maria V. Martinez, Air Force Master Sgt. Tracy S. Meador, Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Penny A. Koons, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Yezabeth Cuevas, and Marine Staff Sgt. Jessica Davila. Each woman thanked the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues for honoring all women and remembering the sacrifices each woman has made throughout history. “I am honored to be a part of something so much bigger than myself,” commented Davila.

To end the ceremony, the congresswomen presented a wreath honoring the fallen servicewomen and their families who remain behind to tell their story. Truly an event to honor the often overlooked contributions of women service members, AMVETS recognizes the dedication and service of all military members, both active duty and veterans, and continues to ensure that the military community remains in the forefront of Americans’ minds.  

 (Photos: Middle: Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught talks with Reps. Jean Schmidt, R-OH, and Renee Ellmers, R-N.C. Bottom: A wreath and roses for fallen servicewomen in front of the Women in Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C. Photos by: Brittany Barry)

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