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AVER National President Danny Ingram

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Atlanta Prime Timer Danny Ingram is the national president of American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER). The organization started in 1990, and is the nation’s only LGBT veteran service organization or VSO.  During Danny’s four years as president, AVER has worked to expand its services, from helping veterans find jobs and deal with PTSD, to helping LGBT veterans that were thrown out of the service for being gay get their discharges upgraded.

While they are working on getting their service arm up and running, veterans who were given a “less than honorable” discharge for being gay, can seek the assistance of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Many Prime Timers, particularly from the Vietnam War era, fall into this category, and discharges have been upgraded. We are all reaching the age where having veterans’ benefits, particularly healthcare, would be great to have. But if your discharge is less than honorable, those benefits aren’t available.

“The best thing we are doing,” Danny said, “is pairing lesbian and gay Afghan and Iraq war vets with Vietnam era vets” to help them with issues like PTSD, alcoholism, drug abuse and depression.

Ingram noted that AVER is an important organization in helping gay veterans. He offered the example of Chuck Schoyen, a founder of AVER, and a veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He went from being enlisted to being an officer. Six months short of retirement, he was dishonorably discharged for being gay, and was unable to collect his retirement or other benefits.

Danny Ingram joined AVER 16 years ago. He was one of the first service members to be discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “I told,” he said. He served six years in the Army. Ingram said that his greatest reward in all this was that he was invited to the White House when President Obama signed the law repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

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