AMVETS Welcomes Defense Official to Convention

American Forces Press Service

ORLANDO, Fla. , Aug. 8, 2008 -  AMVETS leaders welcomed scores of members of the veterans support group from across the country to Orlando for the 64th AMVETS National Convention on Aug. 5.

In his comments to the members present, John P. "JP" Brown III, the group's national commander, touched on his recent visit to Iraq. He mentioned both the troops' morale and their underlying concerns for their families' well-being while they're deployed.

"My recent visit to Iraq affirmed in my mind our troops' commitment to their mission," Brown said. "All they ask in return is that we continue to ensure that their families are taken care of while they are called to duty and even after they return home."

During her keynote address, Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison, applauded AMVETS for its continued support of servicemembers. She said groups like AMVETS make a tangible difference in the lives of U.S. troops each day.

Barber, who created the America Supports You program, used the story of a Marine who lost a leg in Iraq to illustrate her point.

Though he was capable of returning to active duty, his shower needed renovations to accommodate his new situation. John Gonsalves, director of Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit group providing adaptive housing for wounded warriors, learned of the Marine's situation and stepped in to help.

"[Gonzalves] had a contractor at the Marine's house by the end of the week, and work was completed by [the following] Tuesday," she said. "It's refreshing to see the generosity of the American people who want to make a difference.

"This is why America Supports You exists. So many people want to help, and we want to show them ways in which they can," she added

When the work was completed, the wounded Marine presented the contractor with his Purple Heart Medal as a token of his gratitude. When the contractor said he could not accept it, the Marine said simply, "Why not? You're my hero now," Barber said.

AMVETS and Homes for Our Troops are both supporters of America Supports You, a Department of Defense program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

(From an AMVETS news release.)

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Homes for Our Troops [ ]
AMVETS Welcomes Defense Official to Convention [ ]