In the New Year
Fellow veterans, service members, families and allies,
Now is the customary time to report on the achievements of a great year past, and to make plans for the New Year. After our notable progress in recent years defending and advancing our LGBT rights and benefits, progress seemed likely to come to a crashing halt as a result of this past election.
In 2016 a gay Secretary of the Army was named, the Secretary of the Navy met personally with leadership of the LGBT veterans community including AVER, we completed a highly successful AVER national convention that reached out to our allies and those outside our community and the VA began a review of their policies toward LGBT veterans. In June 2016 military policy was changed to allow open service for transgender service members; however full implementation has not yet been achieved. Details can be reviewed at https://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/0616_transgender-policy.
Still, we have unfinished goals. In the highest traditions of American citizen soldiers, American Veterans for Equal Rights will support and protect equal treatment before the law, equal access to benefits, full access to voting rights, non-discrimination in civilian employment and support for the mission and goals of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Together with YOU and our allies we can and certainly will preserve and advance the equal rights of LGBT veterans and active duty service members. Congress is unlikely to see a serious attempt to reinstate DADT since the Democrats will fight such a move and many Republicans are unwilling to take up that fight particularly in light of the successes demonstrated with open and equal service of LGBT personnel.
What we won with great difficulty, we must stand and protect, including: DADT repeal, marriage rights, family rights, and women in all military occupations including combat. And we have before us ongoing fights for full implementation of transgender rights to serve and to receive equal VA services and benefits. We can and must remain vigilant and look after our brother and sister veterans and active duty warriors. In our recent past we achieved our goals as a team. Now, we have much to do and it requires a team willing to continue the hard work to complete and preserve our future. That team should include YOU!
I encourage you now to join or "re-enlist" with American Veterans for Equal Rights in the fight to protect and advance our equal rights. AVER is taking the lead as we observe and report the actions of a new administration and Congress. We promise, when action is needed, we will get the word out and stand beside all our many veterans, active duty service members and supporters. WE ARE NOT RETREATING, WE ARE STANDING OUR GROUND!