AVV Newsletter – April 2024

Hold the date

Veterans Forum and Fundraiser

Sunday, April 28
1:00pm – 5:00pm
211 W24th Street
Norfolk, VA 23517


American Veterans Vote

Newsletter April 1, 2024

Our Strategic Goals

From the CEO

the power of one


Veterans understand teamwork, unity of effort, and unified action due to their training and experience.  There is no “I” in team, no “me” over “we.”  If you misunderstood this principle your drill instructor, team leader, or senior NCO reinforced the point…with emphasis!  Mission success demands teamwork. We can disagree respectfully, offer opinions constructively, but when the smoke clears, the leader decides.  The military is not a democracy. 

And, then we leave the Service, make a home, find a new life and likely find our way into a group, a new team, a corporate activity.  Education, training, employment, culture all lead us back to collective activity.  The transition is sometimes difficult, but essential.  Life goes on. 

And, then, we may notice our schools are failing, our jobs are leaving, crime is rising, or our basic freedoms are threatened.  But what can one person do?  As a nation, our past service seems dishonored, our sacrifices cheapened, our comrades forgotten.  But what can one person do?  Every message, every cultural signal, every public sign seems to disempower or cancel the individual.  But what can one person do?  In public life, it seems we can only divide into Team Us versus Team Them.

Veterans, there is another way. Exercise our right to Vote.  Everyone!  We defended this right, we fought for this right, many even helped insure this right in foreign missions.  The power of simple math makes our collective vote incredibly powerful in Virginia (and the U.S.)  to change course, demonstrate unity, demand change.

So, what can one person do?  Here are some numbers:

AVV analyzed Veteran voting in the most recent 2023 elections in Virginia.  Once again, the power of Veteran votes was very clear.  For example, in our examination of the 2023 election for General Assembly candidates within the 10th Congressional District (CD), we found, on average, only 46.7% of all registered voters voted.  By comparison, in the same CD in the same election, Veterans, on average, voted at a rate of 68.7%!  We saw this same Veteran advantage in voter participation across the Commonwealth – in a so called “off year” election. 

AVV is proud of any support we may have given to such success. We are equally proud of our Veterans exercising the voting rights they’ve defended.  But, remarkably, in this very typical Congressional District, 31.3% of Veterans sat out the election!  But it’s worse. Any measure of missing Veteran voters is based on data that likely underestimates the total number of Veterans in Virginia.  This shortfall, estimated by AVV at 300,000+ Veterans, translates to an equal number of potential Veteran votes for change through the ballot box.  Veterans can have a dominant voice in Virginia politics if we can get more (all?) Veteran voters off the sidelines. 

AVV remains committed to this goal.  EVERY VETERAN, EVERY VOTE.

Once again, immediately after the 2023 election cycle ended, American Veterans Vote assessed our strengths and weaknesses, adapted our processes and programs, and continued our march forward with Veterans and Veteran supporters to achieve lasting, constructive change through the ballot box.  Our membership continues to grow.  Our new website is performing its purpose of networking our members and supporters extremely well.  We continue to build alliances and strengthen our networks.  Fund raising is never ending (donations are very welcome).  And, obviously, we’re using ever better data analytics to target our collective efforts. 

The November 2024 election cycle in Virginia is an opportunity for us to prove again the numerical strength of Veteran votes across Virginia. There are eleven Congressional races, a Senate race, and a Presidential race.  In a political environment that is often divided and polarized, Veterans can calmly and effectively influence elections and change the course of Virginia and the nation.  WE HAVE THE NUMBERS, WE HAVE THE MASS.  WE NEED TO USE IT.  Hit the Website.  Join AVV.  Please Donate.  Meet your Regional Team Leader and Team members.  Volunteer, Vote, Lead! 

And remember, at the center of our Commonwealth and our Nation is the power of one.

E Pluribus Unum—”Out of Many, One.”


Veterans Forward!

Bob Wood

LTG (R), US Army

CEO, American Veterans Vote

Inspiration Corner

COL (R) Michael B. “Yama” Hoyes

ask not…

Sometimes as problems or situations arise, I find myself failing to ask the right question, and when that happens, I may get an answer that doesn’t really solve my problem. Can anyone relate?

Let’s step back in history a bit. Moses has died and his successor, Joshua, is leading Israel into the promised land (Canaan), just as the Lord had promised. In doing so, Israel had miraculously crossed the Jordan river on foot, 40 years after their ancestors crossed the Red Sea, on foot with Moses. The promised land was inhabited, and the people there were enemies of Israel…but something happened as Joshua neared Jerico, in Canaan (Joshua 5:13-14):

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”

In this situation, Joshua, like we might today, inquired whether the man was for him or against him…but since Joshua was on a mission from the Lord, perhaps Joshua should have asked the man if he was for the Lord or not.

Similarly, during President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address on January 20, 1961, the new president posed the question, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Not just a patriotic spirit but asking the right question.

Even today, the question is not so much, “is God for us,” but rather “are we for God?” Do we align ourselves with His will? As we go about our lives, do we really ponder the phrase “endowed by their Creator” as written in our nation’s Declaration of Independence? While going forward, encouraging other veterans to do their civic duty and vote, let us be mindful of asking the right questions, remembering Who is really in charge, as we pray for our nation.


A Veteran’s Perspective


Rocco Dryfka, USAF (Ret)

are you a hyphen American?

On December 9, 1992, the U.S. Marines landed in Mogadishu, Somalia without resistance.  The next day I arrived with a senior NCO and an American of Somalia descent acting as our interpreter.  Our job as Special Agents with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations was to set up a force protection network safeguarding Air Force assets operating from the Mogadishu airport.

The scene upon my arrival was right out of a Mad Max movie.  Beyond the airport perimeter there were mounds of earth everywhere which did little to suppress the stench of decaying bodies buried beneath.  There was no infrastructure – no electrical power, running water, grocery stores, hospitals, trash collection, law and order – nothing.  Lamp posts and power lines had been knocked down to cannibalize the metal rebar and wiring within.  Drinking water for the Somalis came from polluted wells.  You could tell where the children lived by their birth defects – children who drank from wells in one part of the city had cleft palates while other children supported by another well had missing fingers.

Rival clans owned different parts of the city and if you were of the wrong clan caught in another clan’s turf, you’d be lucky to escape with just a beating.  Somalia provided a fresh perspective of how fragile orderly society was, and how horrible life could be when it imploded.  I thanked my lucky stars that I lived in the United States where an orderly society was hardly ever in doubt.   

What factors drove Somalia to fall apart?  Six months later at the Naval Postgraduate School, I had a chance to figure it out when my professor tasked me to write a paper on why some countries with diverse populations succeeded while others failed. 

The conclusion is intuitive to most of us Veterans – that in a diverse society, when there is no overarching national identity to relate to i.e, no integration, no shared public opinion, no common bond, nothing to promote social cohesion, etc, then society reverts to subnational allegiances when things get tough.  Somalia it turns out, wasn’t a homogenous country at all – Somalis thought of themselves first and foremost along clan lines.  When fractures in their society occurred, they reverted to being a collection of clans.

In contrast, our interpreter, Mahdi- the American of Somali descent – had only been a naturalized U.S. citizen a short time but was uber-American and patriotic.  Why? Because unlike in his former country, he knew his potential wasn’t linked to his clan, but rather to the ideals that America offered.  Extremely effective and a real asset, he was a perfect example of how diversity under an overarching national bond was a strength. 

Today I wonder how solid our national cohesion is.  Don’t we have areas in some cities that appear like failed states due to gangs, crime, and violence – places where you’d be targeted based on your outward appearance.  Aren’t tribal flags being celebrated while the Stars and Stripes is deemed a trigger.  Don’t we now see clan bias in governmental agencies and in the application of law?  To me, these are signs of a society in decline.  I wonder how Mahdi feels about the tribalism underway in his adoptive country. 

So, when I see politicians encourage and celebrate tribalism here in the form of separate flags, anthems and whatever else to secure votes, it saddens me because I know first-hand how detrimental it is. 

For us Veterans, our common bond is our military service which among other things ties us to the national identity of being an American.  If you’ve served, you’ve likely no use for the hyphen; you’re an American, period.

As the national election approaches, we can either get involved or stay on the sidelines and hope for the best. For those of us who think our national identity is worth fighting for, American Veterans Vote is a place to join with other like-minded individuals to fire the politicians who divide us.  Come join us in getting out the vote, volunteering, or leading the way forward to a brighter future for our society.


hold the date

American Veterans Vote, Inc. (AVV) is a volunteer team of Veterans and Veteran supporters. We are a 527 Political Action Committee with a nationally-focused mission to promote the political power of Veterans and Veteran supporters in support of our three strategic goals:

  • Support of Veterans and their Families
  • Defend our Constitution as Written and Amended
  • Protect the Nation at Home and Abroad

AVV’s goal is to help Veterans maximize their political voice by supporting Veterans’ ability to Vote, Volunteer and Lead.

“Every Veteran, Every Vote.”
We don’t speak FOR Veterans… we speak AS Veterans.


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