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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Georgia AMVETS Provide Thanksgiving Dinner Baskets to Needy Families

VALDOSTA, Ga. — Georgia AMVETS Post 607 of Valdosta, Ga., was able to provide Thanksgiving dinner baskets to 67 families in need on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, through its Thanksgiving basket giveaway campaign.

While AMVETS served 100 applicants for holiday meal assistance in 2011, the numbers this year still represent a success to organizer Post 607 Second Vice Commander Rena Crawford, who believes in one of the main pillars of AMVETS: service to one's community.

“With the economic times the way they are, we are realizing a lot of people don’t have enough food to feed their families," said Crawford. "As veterans we wanted to do something to give back to the community."

AMVETS Post 607 managed to raise about $1,500  to purchase the meals for the charity. The organization ran a boot donation drive in the Inner Perimeter Road Wal-Mart parking lot, earning more than $900 during Veterans Day weekend. The Moody Air Force Base Commissary donated $100 for the charity, and a raffle for two liquor baskets raised another $120. The remaining donations came from individual members and organizational funds.

The dinners included a basket of turkey, collard greens, dressing, cranberry sauce and canned yams. Volunteers delivered 25 of the 67 boxes, and the remaining 42 were picked up on-site between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. by approved applicants. Needy families were asked to fill out applications for the donated meals to gauge if they qualified for assistance through AMVETS.

Those who qualified were notified of their approval, and asked to provide identification when they picked up the dinners, unless they were delivered by an AMVETS member. More than 40 volunteers, including a large number of veterans and active-duty service members, helped to give away and deliver the Thanksgiving meals.

With the basket giveaway complete, AMVETS now turns its attention to its annual Children’s Christmas Party on Dec. 22, when the organization will give away 100 bicycles, as well as offer food to visitors and escort Santa Claus on a fire truck.

 “It’s the holiday season, which is supposed to be the time when you put away the negative and focus on those who need something, and to realize what you’re thankful for,” said Crawford.

Photos: Top: AMVETS members and volunteers prepare Thanksgiving baskets. Bottom: AMVETS Department of Georgia Second Vice Commander Bryon Dublin, AMVETS member Nerma Dave, AMVETS Post 607 Second Vice Commander Rena Crawford and AMVETS Post 607 Commander Dennis Williams help check in families at the Thanksgiving basket giveaway on Nov. 20, 2012. Photos courtesy of Frederick L. Bates.

About AMVETS:   
A leader since 1944 in pre­serv­ing the free­doms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS pro­vides sup­port for vet­er­ans and the active mil­i­tary in procur­ing their earned enti­tle­ments, as well as com­mu­nity ser­vice and leg­isla­tive reform that enhances the qual­ity of life for this nation’s cit­i­zens and vet­er­ans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered vet­er­ans’ ser­vice orga­ni­za­tions in the United States, and includes mem­bers from each branch of the mil­i­tary, includ­ing the National Guard and Reserve. To learn more, visit

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

WhatsMyM3: A New Mental Health App

Nearing the end of 2012, all branches of the military are reporting record numbers of annual suicides among service members. Currently, 2012 has been the worst year for military suicides since the Department of Defense began tracking statistics in 2001. As of Nov. 11, 2012, the Pentagon has recorded 323 confirmed and reported suicide cases, surpassing the all-time high record of 310 in 2009. Out of the 323 cases, the Army accounted for 168, while the remainder consisted of 53 sailors, 56 airmen, and 46 Marines. These alarming statistics have prompted the DoD and other veteran's agencies, including VA, to launch programs and awareness campaigns targeting active duty service members and veterans.

“The issue of veteran’s health and mental health, particularly those returning from active duty is of critical importance,” said WhatsMyM3 Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gerald Hurowitz. “The epidemic of suicides and the surveyed prevalence of PTSD, depression and related mental health and addictive disorders underscores the fact that mental health conditions are the signature injuries of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”

To address the need for mental health screening among the military community, the WhatsMyM3 application screens and tracks a service member’s health number, which is similar to numbers used to track cholesterol, heart disease or body mass index. With 29 questions and only taking approximately three minutes, the WhatsMyM3 screening is simple to complete and helps the user identify possible risks of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and PTSD.  

One of the unique features of this application is that the screen responses entered by an individual can be accessed by a designated health care professional if the user gives permission. This helps facilitate discussions between the patient and physician. Also, the patent has the ability to record progress on a bi-weekly basis, permitting their health care provider to gain insight into their mood, triggers, and possible side effects of medicine. The designated doctor may access a patient’s results and progress reports through a hard copy, fax or a secure online site. 

WhatsMyM3 is available for veterans and service members to download on iTunes for iPhone or iPad users, or Google Play for Android users. The pre-screening test can also be taken online at:

Photo: Screenshots of the WhatsMyM3 application.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Department of Labor: Salute to Veterans Event

On Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, Secretary of the Department of Labor Hilda L. Solis hosted a Salute to Veterans Event at Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, D.C. The Salute to Veterans event focused on the initiatives to decrease the number of unemployed veterans and present opportunities to the men and women who served our country. 

“We currently employ more than 3,000 veterans, including more than 400 in managerial positions,” Solis said in her opening remarks. “Last month, the unemployment rate for our veterans fell to 6.3 percent, well below the national average.” While the national average for veteran unemployment has decreased, the number of 18 to 24-year old veterans who are without employment remains higher than their civilian counterparts. Solis went on to praise the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to encourage civilian employers to hire veterans.

“We’ve hosted more than 330 hiring fairs in 49 states. These fairs already have helped more than 10,000 veterans and their spouses find jobs,” said Solis in regards to the Department of Labor and Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative. “Through our Jobs for Veterans state grant program, we’ve funded 2,000 veterans employment specialists in communities across the country.”

Following Solis’ remarks, a panel discussion on the experiences of veterans and why employers should hire veterans was led by Deputy Assistant of Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service Ismael Ortiz Jr. The panel included: retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, Army veteran and Director of “Got Your 6” Chris Marvin, Navy reservist and head of Goodwill Industries’ Veterans and Military Family Services James Lander, Air Force veteran and Department of Labor employee Miguel Cumbo, and Air Force veteran and federal contractor Chauntay Green.

The panel discussed topics ranging from the challenges young veterans face when transitioning into the civilian workforce to the qualities veterans should emphasize when interviewing for a job. The panel allowed audience members to see the different perspectives from both employers and veterans and how the issue of unemployment affects both parties.

For more information on the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, visit:

Photos: Top: Secretary Solis discusses veteran unemployment at the Department of Labor's Salute to Veterans event on Nov. 15, 2012. Bottom: Army veteran and Director of “Got Your 6” Chris Marvin and Navy reservist and head of Goodwill Industries’ Veterans and Military Family Services Program James Lander talk about the benefits of hiring veterans. Photos by Brittany Barry. 

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Friday, November 9, 2012

New Patriotic Video Celebrates Veterans

This Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, we celebrate Veterans Day and recognize many of the men and women who often are ignored and forgotten. Through parades, celebrations, free dinners at local restaurants and wreath presentations at veteran monuments, veterans are honored and their sacrifices and dedication to our country are highlighted.

Dominique and Donelle Hargrove of Richmond, Va., are joining with thousands of people this weekend to thank veterans from all eras and ensure their contributions to our country are not forgotten. One of the hottest, up and coming Christian gospel acts, the Hargrove brothers have created a new music video to honor everyone who has worn the uniform, including first responders, police officers, and firefighters. Known as Da Twins, the two Virginia residents hope to spread their message of appreciating all who serve our country and encourage people of all ages to thank local service members.

Both men recognize that often the sacrifices of military men and women and their families go unnoticed after they return home from war and attempt to reintegrate into civilian society. By creating a song and video specifically tailored to honor service members, Da Twins hope to support veterans, veteran groups like AMVETS, and their families.

This Veterans Day, AMVETS will be present at various ceremonies in the Washington, D.C., area. Today and every day, we thank you for your service as a member of our Armed Forces and will continue to fight for your benefits and rights as a military veteran.

To view their video, titled “1 Nation,” click here.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

SMU Undergrad Vet Connects with Upper Classman Daughter

DALLAS (SMU) – When SMU senior Amie Kromis leaves her Political Communication seminar in Dallas Hall, her father is waiting outside the door for her. U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Kromis isn’t just there to spend some time with his daughter – he is on his way to class himself.

Thomas transferred to SMU this fall as a junior combining credits from undergraduate courses he took while in the Marine Corps. A career Marine, Thomas served 21 years in numerous countries, including Japan, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and Norway.

“We didn’t have the traditional father-daughter relationship when Amie was growing up,” Thomas says. He and Amie’s mother divorced early in Amie’s life so Amie lived with her mother in Nashville, Tenn., while Thomas’ military duties took him all over the world.

“Whenever we wanted to see each other it took a lot of work and it took a lot of money,” he says.

Despite the physical distance, Thomas was a part of Amie’s life. “He always sent letters from countries he visited and thought of clever souvenirs,” Amie says. “He sent bottles of sand from all the countries in the Middle East.”

Amie began attending SMU in 2009, the same year Thomas retired from the Marine Corps and moved to Dallas.

“I still wasn’t able to spend much time with her, because she is just so involved,” Thomas says. But when he received the admission letter from SMU in 2012, he knew that would change. Thomas is one of 170 veterans attending SMU. He receives G.I. Bill benefits along with the SMU Opportunity Award and the Tuition Equalization Grant.

Amie is a resident assistant at Boaz Hall, an SMU ambassador, a moderator for the Tate Lecture Series and recently received the All University John L. Freehafer Award for demonstrating an interest in student life, activities and government.

Thomas also maintains a packed schedule. The applied physiology and sport management major works full-time as head of personal training at Life Time Fitness in nearby Flower Mound and attends class on his two days off.

“I call him Mr. Superman,” Amie says. “Whenever I feel like I need to complain about schoolwork, I think of my dad and feel humbled. Everything that he has gone through, and he is still pursuing this degree.”

This fall, Amie took on another campus role – passing along to her father SMU insight about professors and courses.

“It was so exciting to share my academic experience with him,” Amie says. “I suggested he enroll in a class with one of my favorite professors, Rita Kirk.”

Thomas and Amie walk together on Tuesdays and Thursdays across the main quad until they part ways toward their respective classes.

“Just the ability to go have dinner together on a weekday… it’s a big deal,” Thomas says. “I don’t take this relationship for granted.”


SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

Story and photos courtesy of: Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

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