AMVETS, one of the "Big Six" veterans service organizations, now has its first female national commander with the election of retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jan Brown.
Brown, a 27-year veteran who spent 15 years in recruiting, said, "I thank my AMVETS family for putting their confidence in me to lead this organization.
"I promise that I will always represent AMVETS in the very best light," said Brown, who was elected for a one-year term at the AMVETS national convention in Louisville, Kentucky, over the weekend. AMVETS was formed in 1944 and has about 250,000 members nationwide.
Her election reflects the increasing number of women ascending to top leadership posts as their numbers increase in both the military and veterans groups.
Women now represent about 15% of the active-duty military and about 10% of the veterans population, according to the Disabled American Veterans group. Women are also the fastest-growing segment of the veterans population.
As national commander, Brown succeeds Army veteran Rege Riley, who had set bringing more women into the AMVETS membership and placing them in leadership roles as major goals of his tenure.
In the tradition of AMVETS national commanders, who single out an issue when they take office, Brown said she will focus on the mental health problems that may be missed by the Department of Veterans Affairs in treating veterans.
Brown noted the work of the Save A Warrior organization, of Newark, Ohio, which provides counseling in the areas of mental health and wellness, suicide prevention and post-traumatic stress to veterans, military personnel, police, firefighters and other first responders.
"There are parts of ourselves that the traditional medical model is not equipped to heal or nourish," Brown said in a statement. "AMVETS works relentlessly to heal American veterans, and I believe, through this project, we will continue working to see that veterans are living well, not just 'un-sick,' and we'll begin to curb the national veteran suicide crisis."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.