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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Montford Point Marines Receive Congressional Gold Medal

Yesterday, on June 27, 2012 the Montford Point Marines were presented with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. More than 19,000 men went through basic training at Camp Montford Point in New River, N.C., from 1942 to 1949. Before Camp Montford Point was established, African Americans were not allowed to enlist in the Marine Corps. On June 25, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802, establishing a Fair Employment Practice Commission. This agency ensured that racial discrimination would not occur in any government institution, including the military.

On August 126 1942 the first African American recruits arrived at Montford Point, instead of being sent to Paris Island, S.C. or San Diego, where all other Marines underwent basic training. 120 men began training in September and started the journey of becoming Marines. “Montford Point was just a stone’s throw from Camp Lejeune, where the white Marines were trained, “ said retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. Reuben J. McNair, one of the first African American men allowed to enlist in the Marine Corps. These recruits trained separately from white service members and after training, were only allowed to serve in exclusive units determined by race. In 1974, Montford Point was renamed Camp Johnson, which now serves as the only Marine Corps installation named after an African American Marine.

Today, only 430 Montford Point Marines are still alive and around 370 of these men attended the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony yesterday. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid presented the Montford Point Marines with the honorable award. Joining the ranks of George Washington, Ulysses Grant, Robert Frost, and the Tuskegee Airmen, the Montford Point Marines beamed proudly as memories came rushing back and as America recognized their sacrifices and courage in the face of adversity.

Today, June 28, 2012, a parade was held in honor of the Marines at the barracks in Washington, D.C. The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos was the main speaker at the parade. “This is a legendary moment,” said Gen. Amos. “This is a historical moment in the lineage of our United States Marine Corps.” Gen. Amos went on to thank Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., and Kay Hagen, D-N.C., for spearheading the initiative in the House of Representative and Senate to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal on this group of deserving Marines. Certainly a defining moment in the Marine Corps history and the history of the United States, AMVETS thanks the Montford Point Marines for their service and continued dedication to our country and the Marine Corps. 

(Photos: Top: A copy of the Montford Point Marines' Congressional Gold Medal. Courtesy of U.S. Mint. Middle: Cpl. Alvin Ghazlo demonstrates a disarming technique of his assistan, Pvt. Ernest Jones. Official Marine Corps photo. Bottom: Lawrance Taylor, a Montford Point Marine, sits for a portrait. Photo by: Sgt. Alvin Williams)

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

National PTSD Awareness Day

Today, Wednesday, June 27, 2012 marks the third annual observance of National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day. In commemoration of the event, Honor for ALL will host a Visible Honor for Invisible Wounds event on Capitol Hill later today. Members of Congress, representatives from all branches of the military, and many affected service members and veterans will attend the event, promoting resources that are available to military personnel currently suffering from this disorder. Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler will deliver the keynote address.

First established by Congress in 2010, National PTSD Awareness Day is an opportunity for senior leadership and individuals dealing with this condition to open a dialogue with service members who are attempting to deal with PTSD on their own. In 2010, Senator Kent Conrad, D-N.D., proposed this observance in honor of Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Joe Biel, who committed suicide after two deployments to Iraq.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a campaign throughout the entire month of June, featuring videos of veterans, active duty personnel, and family members who have dealt with and suffered from symptoms of PTSD. According to VA, there are four types of PTSD symptoms. First, reliving the event through nightmares or flashbacks can be a symptom. Second, the individual may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. Third, the individual may find it hard to express feelings and feel numb toward a spouse or family members. The fourth symptom, cited by VA, is that an individual may be jittery and on the lookout for danger. This may occur though anxiety, disruptive sleeping, or an inability to concentrate.

While 11 to 20 percent of all service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from symptoms of PTSD, many do not feel comfortable speaking out about their symptoms. Family members hope that their loved one will eventually reintegrate into the normal routine of life outside of the war zone. Some even learn to change their routine to avoid confrontations or triggers that make symptoms worse. However, the best method for dealing with PTSD is to talk to a professional about symptoms and experiences. This may be a doctor at a military treatment facility, other veterans in PTSD groups that meet at VA facilities, or civilian therapists provided free of charge through Give an Hour ( What spouses, family members, veterans, and military individuals need to remember is there is help available. The first and most challenging step is to reach out and realize that accepting help does not undermine your worth as a veteran, as a warrior, or as an individual.

To access information provided by VA visit,

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This Week at American Veteran

The staff at American Veteran is putting the final touches on the Summer 2012 magazine. Members and subscribers should be receiving copies the second week of July.

This week at American Veteran Online, we will be examining resources that are available for veterans and service members with post-traumatic stress disorder. Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 27, is National PTSD Awareness Day.  This is the third year of recognizing June 27 as a day of promoting discussions about this condition that affects many military personnel.

American Veteran will also be present at the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony Parade held in honor of the Montford Point Marines at the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington, D.C. The ceremony and parade will be taking place on Thursday, June 28.

As we all work hard to perfect the Summer 2012 edition of American Veteran magazine, we hope you are enjoying the summer. As always, we’re eager to hear what you think. Please feel free to share your veterans’ news and comments with the editorial staff of American Veteran.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Members from AMVETS Post Visit Wounded Warriors

Five members from the newly reactivated Connecticut AMVETS Derby/Shelton Post 43 participated in Operation Gift Cards and represented 4 co-sponsors while delivering over $12,000 in post exchange gift cards, corporate donations, and wish list items to wounded troops at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on June 4, 2012. Three members are Operation Enduring Freedom and/or Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans, and the sixth AMVET is from AMVETS Brooklyn Connecticut Post 47. 

The six AMVETS delivered thank you kits on behalf of the AMVETS State Headquarters, the Fairfield Fire Department, Daughters of the American Revolution Simsbury Chapter, and the Milford Knights of Columbus. Each co-sponsor donated $1,000 in post exchange gift cards for the trip.

For the past two years the Connecticut AMVETS have been the largest supporter of Operation Gift Cards.

Since October 2005, the Operation Gift Cards’ 83 monthly/bimonthly visits have presented 14,025 thank you kits that contained $280,500 in post exchange gift cards to our wounded troops and their families. An additional $234,996 in other gift certificates and special group product donations (Girl Scout cookies, corporate gift certificates, etc.) have been delivered to the Soldier Family Assistance Center, the Fisher Houses, Building 62, the Navy Lodge, the Red Cross, and the Casualty Affairs Office, along with over $50,000 worth items on the “wish list” for both the wounded troops and their families (approx. $565,500 total).

Photo: Left to right: Brian O'Rourke, Kevin McMahon*, Matt McDonald*, Al Meadows, Bob Steers*, and Commander Steve Frank represent four June co-sponsors of Operation Gift Cards. 

*OEF and/or OIF veterans

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AMVETS National Commander Visits Athens, Ohio

by: Joesph Stevenson, Sr., AMVETS District 21 Public Relations Officer

On June 19, 2012, a reception was held at AMVETS Athens Post 76 in honor of the visiting AMVETS National Commander Gary L. Fry and Ohio State Commander James Graham. The reception was hosted by District 21 Commander Roy Smith and Post 76 Commander Denny Jarvis.  Commanders Fry and Graham have been visiting other AMVETS Posts in the area.  On June 20, 2012, Dr. John Kopchick of Ohio University toured the AMVETS Diabetes Clinic with Commanders Fry and Graham along with District Commander Smith and other AMVETS members to see the accomplishments of the clinic.  The AMVETS Diabetes Clinic at Ohio University is a major project for AMVETS, both locally and nationally.  While on the Ohio University campus, they also visited with Dave Barker of the newly established AMVETS Service Office of Ohio University, which will assist military personnel and veterans in locating resources for education and training. 

 Photo: Ohio AMVETS State Commander Jim Graham, AMVETS Veterans Service Officer Dave Barker, Student/Veteran, and National Commander Fry visit Ohio University.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Remembering D-Day

68 years ago, 160,000 Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. Stretching 50 miles, the beaches were heavily fortified, yet forces were committed to victory. “We will accept nothing less than full victory,” said Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. 73,000 Americans took place in the operation, with 23,250 landing on Utah Beach, 34,250 on Omaha Beach, and 15,500 airborne troops. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion and by the end of June 6, 1944, the Allied forces had gained a significant foothold in the fight against Nazi Germany. The Allied Forces joined together as one unit, regardless of nation and creed, to fight Nazi Germany and defend their nation’s commitment to freedom.  

More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded and numerous cemeteries across Europe stand as a moving memorial to the events of World War II. The Normandy American cemetery is the first American cemetery to be built in Europe during World War II. Averaging more than 1 million visitors annually, it covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 service members, the majority serving on D-Day. As we remember the men who fought and lost their lives on D-Day, we must remember that service members continue to fight for the same ideals in the Global War on Terrorism. Marking the turning point of World War II, these men of the Greatest Generation set a precedent that our current military continues to strive to live up to and imitate. 

(Photos: Top: Omaha Beach today. Middle: Normandy American cemetery in France. Photos courtesy of American Battle Monuments Commission)

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