From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
American Veterans
EstablishedDecember 10, 1944 (1944-12-10)
TypeVeterans' organization
Legal statusFederally chartered corporation
Headquarters4647 Forbes Blvd.,
Lanham, Maryland
Region served
Membership (2016)
Executive Director
Joseph Chenelly
National Commander
Jan Brown (2019–2020)
Main organ
National Convention
  • AMVETS National Service Foundation
  • AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary
  • Sons of AMVETS
  • Junior AMVETS
  • AMVETS Riders
  • "Sad Sacks"
  • "Sackettes"
Formerly called
American Veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam

American Veterans (AMVETS) is a non-partisan, volunteer-led organization formed by World War II veterans of the United States military. It advocates for its members as well as for causes that its members deem helpful to the nation at large. The group holds a Federal charter under Title 36 of the United States Code. It is a 501(c)19 organization.


In December 1944 twelve small groups of World War II veterans met in Kansas City and formed AMVETS. A year later there were 20,000 memberships and 200 Amvets posts.[1]

Originally only World War II veterans were eligible to join, and the organization's stated goals were:

  • 1. Full employment for veterans
  • 2. Working for veterans' rights
  • 3. Influencing national issues that benefit the United States
  • 4. Gaining recognition of veterans' needs
  • 5. Maintaining friendships made during military service
  • 6. Keeping alive the ideals veterans fought for[2]

Change in membership requirements[edit]

In 1966 AMVETS requested Congress to amend their charter so that veterans of the Korean War and the Vietnam conflict could join, and President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill changing eligibility dates for AMVETS membership. Then in 1984 President Ronald Reagan signed a public law that amended AMVETS charter to open membership to all honorably discharged veterans.[3]

Harold Russell's terms as National Commander[edit]

Harold Russell, the handless World War II veteran and Academy Award winner for The Best Years of Our Lives, served three terms as National Commander in the 1950s. As head of AMVETS, Russell wrote to President Harry S. Truman in 1951 supporting his decision to dismiss General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.

Russell's telegram to Truman cited MacArthur's "repeated insubordination in violation of basic American principles governing civil versus military authority." His telegram said those were "obvious grounds" to relieve MacArthur. Erle Cocke Jr., commander of the American Legion, said that he was "shocked by the news" that AMVETS and the American Veterans Committee supported MacArthur's firing.[4]

President Harry Truman at AMVETS headquarters dedication
AMVETS memorial sign on the New York State Thruway
John "J.P." Brown III, national commander,[5] AMVETS, 2008


The prestigious "Silver Helmet Award" or "Veteran's Oscar"

AMVETS presents its annual Silver Helmet Awards to "recognize excellence and achievement in Americanism, defense, rehabilitation, congressional service and other fields."[6]

Nursing scholarships[edit]

In 1945 the AMVETS National Sad Sacks were formed to raise money for the Sad Sacks Nursing Scholarship Fund.[7] The scholarships, named after George Baker’s Sad Sack cartoon character, are awarded to children of military veterans.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Royland Evans Jr., 50,000 Veterans Who Stayed Out of Big Organizations Have Own Little Groups, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, December 16, 1945, page 4
  2. ^ The Future of America Depends on AMVETS (Advertisement), The Ogden Standard-Examiner, September 9, 1945, page 13
  3. ^ Sidney AMVETS open to all veterans, Sidney Daily News;; (Sidney, Ohio), November 9, 2000, page 36
  4. ^ "AMVETS, AVC Support MacArthur Ouster, Legion Head Shocked". The Gazette and Daily. York, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. 12 April 1951. p. 1. Retrieved 19 March 2021 – via
  5. ^ "Honoring John P. Brown, III". May 13, 2003. Archived from the original on 2014-04-26. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  6. ^ "Our History". Amvets. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07. Retrieved September 13, 2007.
  7. ^ History of the Sad Sacks
  8. ^ 'Sad Sack', York Daily Record, November 26, 1975, page 18

External links[edit]