New AMVETS Commander: Women vets are our priority

Eric Dehm
September 20, 2018 - 10:55 am

Photo courtesy AMVETS

When Rege Riley was elected AMVETS National Commander at their annual National Conference in August, it took place in front of a gathering of mostly male members. That's something the new leader wants to see change during his year in office.

In 1948, the first year that there was a women's component of each branch of the military, they accounted for only 2% of those who served. These days, they make up about 15% of all active duty forces and 18% of the guard and reserves. Women are also about 10% of the total veteran population, and growing. In fact, they are the fastest growing segment of the veteran population. 

During an appearance on the Morning Briefing radio show, Riley outlined his 2018-19 plan for guiding the organization. His top priority is engaging women vets to make sure they know their service is equal, as are their rights, and the welcome they will receive from AMVETS posts around the nation. He says the effort has been going on for several years, but he plans to kick it into overdrive.

Photo courtesy AMVETS

"This year we're gonna try to reach out even further and bring more females to our organization on each level," Riley said. "Post level, region level, departmental and national. It's time, it's well overdue. The more respect the female veterans are given the more they're gonna help our organization."

Riley, who joined AMVETS in 1974 after leaving the Army, says he decided to join the organization specifically because of how inclusive it was.  The fact that everyone he served with, regardless of whether they deployed or served during a war, being eligible to join was a big selling point.  Considering that, it's perhaps not surprising that Riley is extremely happy seeing the organization expanding that inclusivity even more.

"Over the last, I'd say 10 years, the men in the organization are recognizing the women more and more... now the recognition is coming around and I'm glad to see it, and to see some of the older female veterans start coming around to the posts," Riley said.

Welcoming women vets and treating them as equals is the right thing to do, Riley believes, and he is confident they will be a key asset in accomplishing AMVETS mission.

"Nobody, I think, is more together and getting things done, as women."

You can hear the full interview with AMVETS National Commander Rege Riley and Exec. Dir. Joe Chenelly below. To download and listen later, click Share and select Download 

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