Today, OutServe-SLDN and the American Veterans for Equal Rights Rocky Mountain Chapter (AVER-RMC) have announced their merger. Earlier this year, the membership of AVER-RMC voted to officially cede from their umbrella organization and join efforts with OutServe-SLDN’s robust chapter network. Conversations between the leaders of both entities have taken place over the last several weeks to ensure the transition process seamlessly provides support for our Colorado and Wyoming LGBTQ and HIV+ veterans.
American Veterans for Equal Rights – Rocky Mountain Chapter received its charter in 2011 and has spent the last seven years cultivating strong relationships with LGBTQ veterans and community organizations throughout Colorado. Over the last three years, the chapter leveraged their relationships with the Veterans Benefit Administration and the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System to ensure more than 2,500 veterans were availed to their hard-earned benefits. AVER-RMC has also been a staple during Colorado’s pride celebrations, leading the Denver Pride Parade with a color guard contingent each year.
“We are proud of the powerful moments, connections, and accomplishments that we realized together over these past seven years and we will carry them with us into the future,” said Sarah Alder, American Veterans for Equal Rights – Rocky Mountain Chapter president. “As we close the proverbial doors to the Rocky Mountain Chapter, we open a new one simultaneously with OutServe-SLDN. Similar to any other military orders, we are moving into the next fight for equality and empowerment of our communities.”
“This merger is going to strengthen our LGBTQ military and veteran communities here in Colorado and Wyoming,” said Brian Schaaf, OutServe-SLDN Chapter Leader for Colorado and Wyoming. “The AVER-RMC members are a dedicated group of veterans that we have been proud to partner with over the last several years. Having them join OutServe-SLDN is exciting and will be a great benefit to our mission of providing support to our community.”
The newly combined chapter will continue to provide free and direct legal, advocacy, and education resources to its members and community partners. Historically, OutServe-SLDN’s chapter network was focused on providing services and resources to our nation’s actively-serving LGBTQ and HIV+ communities. This merger signals OutServe-SLDN’s intended shift to ensure that our nation’s LGBTQ and HIV+ veterans and their families will be availed to these same support resources.
“We are thrilled that AVER-RMC’s membership will be joining the OutServe-SLDN family,” said Andy Blevins, OutServe-SLDN Executive Director. “As an organization, we are broadening the scope of our mission and seeking to provide additional support to our veteran and military family communities. Ensuring that our chapter support functions are included in that streamlined system of support and resources is integral. I look forward to using the combined Colorado and Wyoming chapter as a model for our chapters throughout the world, enabling us to provide the needed support and resources to all members of our nation’s LGBTQ military and veteran communities.”
Members of the newly combined chapter will be joining together for the first time in celebration of Veterans Day, marching in the Denver Veterans Day Parade on November 10th. This Veterans Day is the 100th anniversary of the World War 1 Armistice, the collective efforts of world leaders to end the four-year bloody conflict. Veterans Day has since been celebrated on the anniversary of this Armistice, to honor all that have answered the call to serve this nation through military service.
Those interested in participating are encouraged to contact the chapter leadership for more information on how to get involved for the Veterans Day events and future programming; chapter leadership can be contacted via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.