As one of Americas
foremost veterans service organizations, AMVETS (or American Veterans)
has a proud history of assisting veterans and sponsoring numerous
programs that serve our country and its citizens. The helping
hand that AMVETS extends to veterans and their families takes
Members of AMVETS Post
113 and the Hispanic Airborne Association proudly
step out in a Southern California parade commemorating the
of Pearl Harbor.
One of the most visible is our network of trained
service officers (NSOs) accredited by the Department
of Veterans Affairs. Funded by the AMVETS
National Service Foundation, these dedicated
men and women can be found in close to 40 states, providing sound
advice and prompt action on compensation claims at no charge to
In one recent year alone, AMVETS national service officers processed
more than 24,000 claims that resulted in veterans receiving some
$400 million in compensation. This commitment to service traces
its roots back to 1948, when our NSOs first began helping veterans
of World War II to obtain the benefits promised them by the federal
National Service Officer Robert Estes provides encouragement
to a veteran undergoing physical therapy at the VA
medical center in Dallas, Tex.
Photo by Brendan Mattingly
Coincidentally, it was these returning veterans who provided
the impetus for forming AMVETS in the first place. At the time,
of them belonged to veterans clubs on college campuses. As the
number of returnees swelled into the millions, it was evident
that some sort of nationally organized assistance for them would
be needed. The older established national groups wouldnt
do; the leaders of this new generation of veterans wanted their
With that in mind, eighteen of them, representing nine veterans
clubs, met in Kansas City, Mo., and founded The American Veterans
of World War II on Dec. 10, 1944. Less than three years later,
on July 23, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law
216, making AMVETS the first World War II organization to be chartered
John F. Kennedy (left), a former AMVETS post commander,
meets with AMVETS National Commander Harold S. Russell, winner
two Academy Awards. In 1961, Kennedy signed legislation enabling
the USS Arizona Memorial to be completed.
Courtesy White House
Since then, the original charter has been amended several times
to admit as members those who served in different eras. Today,
membership in AMVETS is open to anyone who is currently serving,
or who has honorably served, in the U.S. Armed Forces from World
War II to the present, to include the National Guard and Reserves.
As a volunteer-led organization, we annually elect and/or appoint
officers at the national, district, department and post levels.
Each August, representatives from these levels attend the AMVETS
national convention to make decisions on issues affecting veterans
and the organization.
Over the years, AMVETS has been in the forefront of public-policy
related to national defense, services for homeless veterans, adequate
funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, concurrent receipt
of retirement pay and disability compensation by disabled military
retirees, veterans employment and training, POW/MIA accountability
and flag protection.
member of the Junior AMVETS presents a personal-care
a veteran hospitalized at the VA medical center in Louisville,
Ky. On Because We Care Day, AMVETS volunteers
may distribute as many as 30,000 of the kits, which
by the AMVETS National Service Foundation.
Photo by Brendan Mattingly
In addition to the work of our national service officers, other
AMVETS members, as well as those in the AMVETS
Ladies Auxiliary, will devote as many as 250,000 hours
of free time a year to brighten the lives of hospitalized veterans.
Here, something as simple as playing cards with the lonely or
watching television with the disabled can make a world of difference.
So can the assistance we give those who want to finish their
education. Each year AMVETS awards scholarships
totaling $40,000 to deserving high school seniors, ROTC students
and veterans pursuing higher education.
But helping others is not limited to our fellow veterans. AMVETS
members in more than 1,400 posts nationwide also promote and support
quality of life community-service programs ranging
from Special Olympics and ROTC to scouting and organ-donor projects.
Apart from these initiatives, the organization has thrown its
monetary support behind work on such national monuments as the
USS. Arizona, the Statue of Liberty and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
It also sponsors its own carillon program
to honor Americas deceased servicemen and women.
Since 1949, when President Truman dedicated the first carillon
at Arlington National Cemetery, this program has grown to encompass
more than 60 sites in the United States and overseas.
Entertainer Lee Greenwood (left) receives
the AMVETS Silver Helmet Americanism Award from National
Commander James B. King. Greenwood was
in 1988 for his popular patriotic anthem, God Bless
Another tribute unique to AMVETS is the Silver Helmet Award,
often referred to as the Veterans Oscar. A replica of the World
War II GI helmet, this prestigious award is presented annually
to recognize excellence and achievement in Americanism, defense,
rehabilitation, congressional service and other fields.
As the organization moves further into the 21st century, it does
so with the conviction that its focus on preserving freedom, supporting
Americas defenders and serving her communities remains a
clear blueprint for continued service to God and country.