America: October, 2009

2006-2009  Gay Military Signal

Oct. 14-18, 2009 - Ft. Lauderale

Featuring Nathaniel Frank,
Lt. Dan Choi, Military Ball.
PTSD and legislative workshops

The Florida Gold Coast Chapter of American Veterans of Equal Rights (AVER) is hosting a national convention for GLBT Veterans from October 14th through October 18th in Fort Lauderdale/Wilton Manors. AVER is the nation’s only GLBT Veterans Service Organization and serves our nation’s most vulnerable and neglected veteran population.

This biennial convention will have a welcoming dinner at Rosie’s, an Everglades Swamp Safari trip, a Military Dance Party with costume contest, veteran workshops and a Military Gala event on Saturday night. The workshops on Friday will cover issues relating to Legislative Matters, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Chapter Development, Fundraising Strategies and Public Relations. The Military Dance Party will be held at the Sea Monster on Thursday evening and is open to the community. The Military Gala will be held at the Oakland Park American Legion Hall and tickets are $65.00. The American Legion and the Broward County Veterans Council are participating as well.

Among this year’s honorees are Dr. Nathaniel Frank, author of “Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America” and Lt. Daniel Choi, the latest casualty of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

We invite anyone who served a in the military, even a day, to attend this convention and/or the workshops and get involved in AVER. Registration is $75.00 for the entire convention, which includes the Military Gala and workshops.

Our host “Guest Houses” are the Coconut Cove and La Casa Del Mar – only block from fabulous Ft. Lauderdale Beach. (Room rates - $99/night)

Get tickets and register at
or call Mark LaFontaine at 954-903-8310.

Battle of the Ban


Danny Ingram,
President, AVER Georgia

As American Veterans for Equal Rights approach our bi-annual convention October 14-18 in Ft. Lauderale, AVER members may be aware that there are a growing number of LGBT veterans organizations springing around the country to help fight the upcoming Battle of the Ban.  And I think we should welcome them and be willing to work with them.  You may ask yourselves why you should continue to support AVER when there are other alternatives out there.  Some of these groups appear to have more energy, more funding, more technical savvy, and less baggage.  Their members are younger and carry the attention of their service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Why AVER?  We've been around for a while.  What does AVER have to offer?  What makes us worty of your continued support?  There is one important quality that AVER has that some of the the newer groups do not have.  It is a special quality, a quality that is precious and invaluable in our struggle for equality.  It is the quality of "gravitas". 

I am the first to admit that in a community that is so obsessed with youth, a 20-something marine looking fine will garner a lot of attention from the LGBT community.  And we should use that.  The new president of the AVER Tennessee chapter, Tim Smith, fits that mold perfectly.  I welcome Tim and look forward to working with him and our new members in the midsouth.  But when it comes to the larger community and creating real change, when my friend 86-year old WW2 vet Jack Strouss stands up in front of a group, they listen.  When Georgia's ranking member, Colonel Arlene Ackerman, speaks out, she receives the respect to which she is entitled.  And to give our community its due, when these 2 ride in the annual Atlanta Pride Parade, the response they are given will bring tears to your eyes, not unlike the tears that Jack describes as fellow grunts on the deck of the great liner Aquitania shed when they first caught glimpse of the Statue of Liberty when returning home from service in Europe.


AVER'S Newest Chapter
Introducing: AVER West Tennessee
by Tim Smith

  In 1647, Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers addressed the English Parliament. A line from their address stands out to me as a former Marine and gay man: “On becoming soldiers, we have not ceased to be citizens.”

 Indeed, the backbone of this country has been and will always be its “Citizen Soldier.” As such, it is important to remember that while we may give up a comfortable bed, regular nights at home, our choice of hairstyle or attire, we should never be forced to give up our unique identities as gay Americans. At the dawn of this new and historic presidential administration, a slow but sure sea-change is coming. But it will not happen without dedicated veterans such as you and me continuing to fight on in this new battle.For the majority who do not know me, my name is Tim Smith. I am acting President of the newest chapter of the American Veterans for Equal rights – AVER West Tennessee. I served four years and three months in the United States Marine Corps from May 2001-August 2005. At the time of my discharge, I was a Corporal and the S4 Chief for VMFA(AW)-332 at MCAS Beaufort, SC. We were 23 days from leaving for Iraq, and I had just “extended to re-enlist,” when the notice of discharge came.


Register for The AVER National Convention in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, October 14 - 18, 2009

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