American Veterans for Equal Rights is the oldest and largest chapter-based, all-volunteer national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Veterans Service Organization in the United States, and the nation’s only LGBT VSO recognized by the Veterans Administration. Members of AVER are not lobbyists, staffers, interns, or politicians. We are veterans of the US military who are proud of our service and dedicated to the success of the armed forces and the equal treatment of all the patriotic men and women who answer the call to defend our nation’s freedom. With chapters across America, AVER provides a unique and safe space where LGBT veterans can honor pride both in our service and our identity as LGBT people. AVER is dedicated to equality for LGBT service members and veterans in all aspects of our armed forces, including recruitment, training, promotions, honors, and benefits. We support our military’s stated commitment to diversity, and we are dedicated to ensuring that the military honors that commitment fully.
For 20 years AVER worked to overturn the discriminatory ban against LGBT service. We believed that removing a policy that was contrary to the military’s primary mission of defending our nation’s freedom would bring our armed forces closer to its core principles, and make for a stronger and more effective military. With the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law in 2010, AVER now maintains a close watch to ensure that the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual service members who are now allowed to serve openly receive equal treatment under the military’s new policies. We continue to push for the inclusion of LGB service members as a protected class in the Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) Program. Without such protection our LGB service members do not have crucial access to unit level MEO officers who could provide direct and immediate support in cases of harassment or discrimination. As a minority group of Americans who have recently been the victims of official discrimination by the US military, it is only just and logical that LGB service members be protected under the MEO program.
And we will continue to work for full equality and open service for transgender Americans. Despite the fact that transgender veterans were on the front lines of the fight to end DADT, transgender service members did not benefit from the DADT repeal. AVER’s mission of inclusion will not be complete until transgender patriots are allowed to serve honorably beside other members of the military. We will leave no one behind.